MLE

 

Gravy Brown Delivers with "Santa's Slay"
12/30/2008

I am well aware of the gustatory greatness displayed by Chicago-based Gravy Brown, but I never knew he had musical talent. I now find myself blessed by this young performer.

I arrived to the office today to find a comp’d copy of Santa’s Slay, Gravy’s freshman effort. The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen and even Nerfherder succumbed to the make-a-quick-buck appeal associated with issuing a Christmas track. But unlike these artists, who waited until they’d received a high level of commercial success before covering holiday songs, Gravy sold out on day one. The result is incredibly refreshing.

This non-singer/non-songwriter is rocking my holiday with a timbre that recalls such harmonic heavies as Bing Crosby and John Tesh. What places Gravy on the level of these great men is his authentic voice.

It is clear that Gravy’s artistic vision was developed in a boundless environment, one of mixed cultures and hurried cuisine. When listening to “O Little Town of Bethlehem” I felt as if I were in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on an afternoon bender. Am I still at the dive bar sipping V.O. or have I entered a Walgreen’s in a confused effort to buy a fresh pack of smokes?

Spending summers in the small tourist town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, Gravy says he taught himself guitar while watching - over and over - Repo Man and the English comedy Withnail and I. The result is a musician who can’t strum a cord, but reveals the influences of many, from Nat King Cole all the way to Suicidal Tendencies and then back to Berlin.

Santa’s Slay is Gravy’s first recording for Gravy Brown Productions. The album starts with “Go Tell It On The Mountain” and ends with “Jolly Old Saint Nick.” Two bonus tracks ("Take My Breath Away" and "My Heart Will Go On") are added to the CD, but while many bonus tracks feel like extra stuffing that needed a place to land, these two are a lovingly placed bead of mashed potatoes. It’s as if they are here to answer the obvious question of Gravy’s listener – is this guy truly sincere? The answer is YES. The singer's range is incredible, his sound as innocent and powerful as Beautiful Brian’s, his message candid and upfront.

With Santa's Slay, Gravy Brown joins Brett Dennen and Conor Oberst to round out a trio of our time’s most creepy, honest and talented musicians.

- Akwafresh