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.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times. Thanks everyone.