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Pieta Brown

Shimmer

(Red House; US: 10 Nov 2009; UK: 8 Feb 2009)

Pieta Brown has released a couple of well-received records—2005’s In the Cool and 2007’s Remember the Sun—but Shimmer is her debut album on her father Greg Brown’s label, Red House. Despite the presence of a big-name producer in Don Was, as label debuts go, Shimmer is a fairly modest one: an EP consisting of seven stripped-down demo tracks centered around Brown’s voice and guitar with just electric guitar (Bo Ramsey) and bass (Was) adding texture. However, the press release’s claims for the album are anything but modest: It’s overzealous spiel comparing Brown to a brace of female artists, Loretta Lynn, P.J. Harvey, Chan Marshall, and Feist, and it saddles Shimmer with a weight of expectations that it can’t really hope to meet. With that being said, the seven tracks are solid and well crafted, with the sad, sweet “I Know a Girl”, the twanging “Lovin’ You Still”, the plaintive “Hey Joey”, and the seductive “You’re My Lover Now” particularly appealing. Brown’s image-strewn lyrics sometimes reveal too heavy a debt to Dylan, but her lovely voice, with its sleepy, soulful ache and enticing timbre, always commands attention. There’s certainly enough good stuff here to raise anticipation for the release of Brown’s next full-length record, due in the spring.

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Alex Ramon lives in London, UK, and teaches English literature and film at Kingston University and the University of Reading. He holds a PhD in English and is the author of the book Liminal Spaces: The Double Art of Carol Shields (2008). In addition to writing for PopMatters, Wears The Trousers and The Public Reviews, he's been known to blog here: http://boycottingtrends.blogspot.com/. And to tweet @BoycottTrends.


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29 Sep 2011
Even when she sings about being on fire, she does so in measured tones and compares herself to an oak or maple leaf that changes colors in the fall.
5 Aug 2010
Stylish and sensuous, Pieta Brown develops her brand of subtly ambient Americana on her first full-length release for Red House.
17 Oct 2007
Pieta Brown’s latest CD was released in Europe three months before it was scheduled for a domestic release. Iowa City’s Brown, like many Hawkeye musicians, are better appreciated abroad than they are valued at home.
12 Sep 2005
It's hard to resist the temptation to compare Pieta Brown with the greatest of the best. Unfortunately and inevitably, In the Cool doesn't quite live up to the comparison.
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