Brian Ritchey: Bordeaux

BrianRitchey_BordeauxFollowing Justin Townes Earle’s advice to “write what you know”

Nashvillian Brian Ritchey has been something of a chameleon as he’s rambled through Americana (E.P.), garage pop and singer-songwriter crooning (If I Were a Painter), and even an ambitious concept album (No Way Out of This House). It’s a sophisticated. disparate catalog threaded with a Southern sensibility that links to this latest full-length release. His earlier notes of Americana, garage blues, soul and singer-songwriter are here, alongside twangier bits of country and hummable pop-rock, but the arrangements are more straightforward and more quickly ingratiating than his last outing.

The songs suggest the Band (“Victory March”), canyon country (“We’re Just Wrong”), Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys (the clip-clop waltz time of “Someone Else”) and even Screaming Jay Hawkins (“Rest My Head”). Ritchey sings of yearning, getting by, breaking away and moving on, and his downbeat topics will surprise those who first latch onto his incredibly hummable hooks. The album strikes defiant notes with “I’m Not Gone” and “Not Today,” but Ritchey more often seems to grapple with a world he can only react to rather than impact, turning autobiographical seeds into compelling vignettes that could just as easily be the listener’s truth as they are the singer’s. [©2016 Hyperbolium]

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