Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Brian Ray: The Latest ...

Call it serendipity.

I "met" Brian Ray through the modern communication marvel that is Twitter. (He tweets as @brianrayguitar.) And we trade tweets from time to time.

I mention this because I am incapable of being an objective listener of anything he produces from here on out. I am preconditioned to love everything, but for one simple reason: Brian Ray is a tremendously talented musician.

He is also a really cool guy.

I wrote this post back in April, when I first found his music.

And here I am again, because today Brian released two singles from his forthcoming album, This Way Up.

"I Found You" has been available on his site, and I've been listening to it. A lot. But my interest was piqued and I was eager to hear what the newer new track would bring to the table.

As I've written before, "What I love about Brian's music is that every track has its own identity. Some are playful, some are rockin', some will nearly break your heart."

It was true on Mondo Magneto and apparently it will be true on This Way Up, too, if this two-single release is any indication.

You can score the singles and a digital booklet directly from his site for the rock-bottom price of 99 cents. You can also buy the two cuts on iTunes.

"I Found You" and "Happy Ending" are decidedly different cuts.

"I Found You" epitomizes summer to me. The first time I heard it, I wished I was in a convertible. Preferably in California. Because if you're going to cruise down the street and blare that song, there may as well be palm trees around just to up the cool quotient.

"Happy Ending" opens with a very moody feel, one of being on the prowl. And when you read the liner notes about the tune, and listen to the lyrics, the open makes perfect sense. True to past form, there are some cheeky moments in the lyrics, and his talent is on very evident display. Brian plays many guitars on his tracks, all of which mix into a very rockin' aural brew.

And I love that Charlie, his French bulldog, gets a "Bark" credit.

Now, lest I seem effusively adoring of every note Brian puts to paper and every moment of every song, I'll add this bit of opinion, and it is my opinion alone, and the rest of the world may not agree with me, but for my taste (have I hedged enough yet?), I'd prefer "Happy Ending" without the brief Auto-Tune/talkbox business (especially at 0:39-0:41).

I admire his appreciation and willingness to embrace the spectrum of music – one cut on Mondo Magneto opens with a country feel – but that one moment in "Happy Ending" feels too gimmicky in a Brian Ray tune, too obligatory. I think it really dates the song.

But I love the rest of it. The man can tell a musical story.

So, stop what you're doing and head over to his site or to iTunes and grab these cuts.

And one last point: Brian is a brilliant musician. He absolutely has the goods to stand on his own, and does. But he's often mentioned in the same breath as Paul McCartney because Brian tours with him. It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: This is further proof of his mind-blowing talent. Paul, of course, can play with any musicians in the world. (Can you imagine someone telling Paul that they don't want to play with him?) So the fact that Brian has been up on stage alongside Paul for years tells you all you need to know about the man's musicianship before you ever hear a note of his solo efforts.

But oh, you're in for such a great ride.


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