[19 December 2006]
I tend to stay far away from albums that advertise CD’s by other artists under the plastic jewel-case tray, also from labels that identify themselves as promoting “Distinguished Gift Music™”. What is that? But the cheesiness of the marketing aside, Rick Brockner’s Black Mountain Brew is a soothing, enjoyable, if not revolutionary acoustic folk record. Mostly instrumental, with occasional vocals by violinist Cora Beth Bridges, the songs tread a fine line between traditional Appalachian structure/melody and New Age. I mention New Age not to disparage, but to point out that tunes like “Country in the City” and “Sweet Clair” are as smooth as river-tumbled stones, the production clean, and maybe just a bit sterile. Maybe it’s the complete lack of banjos clucking around, twanging things up. Still, Black Mountain Brew is an honest, lovely little record. And I guess it would make a fine, distinguished gift for someone this time of year too.