Brazil – Chris Castino (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Any musician worth their salt will tell you that what they do has no final destination, that albums and gigs are just way-markers, that the whole thing is a continual journey, a long learning curve with no finish line, not one that actually means anything at least. And right from the off Brazil sounds like the work of a man who has put some miles in on just such a musical odyssey. You can always spot them, although it is difficult to put into words just how. A certain economy to their writing perhaps, a deftness in their song-crafting, the understanding that leaving things out is more important than putting things in, (cliche alert…but you know, cliches are true for reason and all that) and a reflection of that idea that the songs themselves are just one small part of that fluid journey, that they shouldn’t be forced or rushed but savoured and enjoyed.

Chinese Whispers is as unhurried as it gets, a gentle flowing balladic and buoyant gem coloured by clever harmonies and sweet sentiments and Duluth is a gorgeous finger-picked slice of sunshine. I am always drawn to songs named after American cities, coming from the UK, our towns don’t seem to resonate in quite the same way…no-one ever wrote a song called On My Way to Newport Pagnall, I assume but I haven’t checked,  but maybe even that sounds exotic to a foreign ear. Leore is a lovely, gentle waltz, a euphoric and romantic song of love and longing and Beginner’s Mind has a touch of Paul Simon about it…and that can only be a good thing right? Damn right!

Singer-songwriters might be dime a dozen these day…get me and my hip American terminology…but great singer-songwriters are a dying breed, gently being pushed out of the picture by skinny jeaned, hat-wearing, gap year troubadours, keen to give us a lesson on life garnered from the 18 months since they moved out of their parents house and into the basement flat around the corner. Thankfully they are a dying but not a dead breed and Chris Castino proves that there is still hope for a renaissance.

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