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Paul Brown - Uptown Blues

Posted by April Galenzoski on 2018/09/24

Two years ago, Paul Brown’s newest release was symbolically titled One Way Back, marking the return to the blues roots of the Grammy winning producer, guitarist and vocalist. Flip ahead to 2018, and it appears those blues roots are planted as firmly as a century old oak tree.

Uptown Blues, on the Woodward Avenue Records label is a continuation of the musical homecoming for Brown, and like every homecoming, there is a veritable stable of distinguished guests on Brown’s latest venture. The album demonstrably showcases Brown’s natural talent and prowess for a modernization of blues, that combines elements of soul, funk and jazz into the mould, with a vocal style that is southern fried.

The Billboard charting and Wave Top 10 hit Boogaloo dives right into this offering with a steady and unrelenting melody and tight horn arrangement, and the brilliance on the Hammond B3 organ of ‘Brother’ Paul Brown, renowned for his musicianship and membership in the Brothers Brown foursome project that released it’s highly successful album Dusty Road in early 2016. The lights are down and the whiskey’s up on I’m As Good As Gone, a slower and edgy track with a common theme the blues are built upon, and another example of Brown’s naturally raw vocals oozing with heartache.

For fans and followers of Brown who have longed craved more of his distinctive vocal sound, Uptown Blues is right on the mark, and I Can’t Stand The Rain delivers another blues soaked performance. Jazz singer Wendy Moten switches up gears for an irresistibly smooth background harmony to Brown on this particular bass heavy and guitar and piano number. Blues For Jeff is a cool, horn sassed tribute to another modern blues genius and fallen colleague and musical brother Jeff Golub. Acclaimed jazz guitarist Chris Standring puts away his six-stringer, and provides the keys and percussion on the title song which he co-writes, with a rich vibrant melody that is highly stylish and uptown sophisticated. One very notable track is one written and sung by Paul’s wife Jacqui, titled Somebody’s Child. The beautifully soft piano-led track is a sobering and heartfelt and emotional reminder of the pain of addiction that the Brown family has experienced first hand.

Superior production, arrangement, and undisputable talent align to make Uptown Blues a labour of love, and project of passion for the multi-talented Brown. “I grew up listening and playing the blues”, he says. “This CD brings my music full circle”. Fans may want to hope that his musical 180, remains a full 360.

Reviewed by
Stu Berketo
On-air host 94.7 HD2 & 95.9 HD2


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