Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Music
cover art

Brushy One-String

Destiny

(Rise Up Music; US: 6 Mar 2013; UK: 6 Mar 2013)

It’s impossible to summarize Jamaica’s Brushy One-String without doing the man a gross disservice. He sings and plays guitar, and the guitar has a single low E string, and that’s it. Saying “that’s it” is like saying that Alexander the Great was this guy who like, won some battles and stuff. Fact is, Brushy is an astonishingly soulful performer whose warm-molasses voice carries a hefty emotional punch and whose single-string guitar riffs are surprisingly hypnotic (and yeah, he does get a little backup here and there). Jaunty album opener “Boom Bam Deng” sets the tone in terms of instrumentation and vocal approach, but it’s standout tunes like the hypnotic “Grey in My Blue”, the barn-burning “Destiny” and especially album closer “War & Crime”, with its deliberate tempo, irresistible chorus and heartbreaking vocal delivery, that elevate this far above novelty status and into the rarified realms of art. As with all true artists, Brushy is impossible to pigeonhole. There’s a fair dose of reggae vibes here, as well as plenty of folk, a bit of blues and a whole mess of soul, but it all melds together into a single tasty stew. Whether singing about social justice or mischievous chickens (“Chicken in the Corn”—it’s a great song), Brushy is the real deal, and his warm mellow pipes can be enjoyed by slackers and change-the-worlders alike. For once, you can believe the hype: Brushy One-String is unlike anybody else, and he’s awesome. Go listen.

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.


Media
Related Articles
By Deanne Sole, George de Stefano, and David Maine
1 Jan 2014
This year's best world music offers up evidence of the artist's confidence in the audience. Do they trust you to be interested in two discs of avant-garde Korean zither or vast archives of live Syrian party music? They do and they should.
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.