Oli Brown rview…07-01-12…

OLI BROWN

HERE I AM

RUF RECORDS 1178

HERE I AM–THINKING ABOUT YOU–MANIC BLOOM–ALL WE HAD TO GIVE–YOU CAN ONLY BLAME YOURSELF–START IT AGAIN–DEVIL IN ME–I LOVE YOU MORE THAN YOU’LL EVER KNOW–REMEDY–MR. WILSON–LIKE A FEATHER–SOLID GROUND

 

For his latest album for Ruf Records, “Here I Am,” twenty-two year old Oli Brown begs his audience to accept him for who he is, and stop the inevitable comparisons.  In fact, he boldly sings on the leadoff title cut, “I’m not trying to be Jimi, not trying to be Stevie, I’m just trying to be myself!”

 

Even tho those comparisons will always exist, Oli has achieved the maturation with this set that Thomas Ruf no doubt saw inside him as a teen.  His guitar prowess is undeniable, and the time he spent in the States mentoring under Buddy Guy has aided the young man from Norwich tremendously.  He’s also found an honesty and openness in his writing, bringing these ten originals and two covers to life on what is his best effort to date.

 

Joined by drummer-producer Wayne Proctor and bassist Scott Barnes, Oli  rides his red-hot guitar and soulful vocals thru one highlight after another.  Check out the funky groove of “Thinking About Her,” where a groupie turns into nothing more than a tease.  “Mr. Wilson” deals with a mid-life adultery crisis, as poor “Mrs Wilson says he’s working late.”  A true love feels like a “Remedy,” while the pain of a break-up is addressed in “All We Had To Give.”  The set closes with a shot of countrified blues, “Solid Ground,” with harp from guest Paul Jones.

 

We had two favorities, too.  Giving in to “the apple of temptation” is the premise behind “The Devil In Me,” while Oli’s maturation comes full-circle in the slow-blues of his cover of Donny Hathaway’s “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know.”  His pained vocal and blistering solos on this one, over a sparse arrangement really shows off his blues roots.

 

Oli Brown is asking only for a little respect with “Here I Am.”  Trust us, he’s gotten that and a whole lot more with this one!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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