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Oli Brown

Here I Am

(Ruf; US: 12 Jun 2012; UK: 23 Apr 2012)

Brit guitar-slinger rocks convincingly.

Oli Brown wants to rock your world. “Ain’t trying to be no Jimi or Stevie,” he tells us on “Here I Am”, the opening track to his album of the same name, “I want to be my god damn self.” An admirable sentiment, but make no mistake: Oli aspires to guitar god status, and he’s got the chops to make a decent case. Jimi he ain’t, but he does a reasonable impersonation of Slash on “Here I Am” and the appealingly raunchy “Remedy”, while “Devil in Me” sounds like a lost Stevie Ray Vaughan tune, right down to the vocal delivery, notwithstanding the abovementioned protest. Oli covers all the expected territory here, with bluesy jams on “Manic Bloom” and “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know”, as well as foot-stompers like “Start It Again”. His sensitive side shows up too — c’mon, you knew it was gonna happen — on the not-great-but-could-be-worse ballad “All We Had to Give”. Overall then, not a groundbreaking record, but a perfectly serviceable slab of crunchy guitar blues-rock. Who says they don’t make ‘em like this anymore?

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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