Something old, something new, something tapping on the roof
The heavy rain falling on the roof of the Kitchen Garden Café gives a strange percussion like sound even before Bronwynne Brent has sung a note. If anything, the inclement weather adds to the somewhat dark sounds that the trio create.
A night split into two sets – the first around 45 minutes, the second slightly longer – takes in some dark emotions and occupies some real shadows, so the somewhat eerie sound tapping above is in keeping.
Beginning with “Devil Again” it is easy to see why Brent’s voice has been compared to those of Billie Holiday and Amy Winehouse, but also the way she delivers the songs in her deep, rich Southern tones is entirely in a style of her own.
It also helps that the other two members of the BB Trio – Mario on upright bass and Brian on guitar – are quite brilliant, and compliment the Mississippi native perfectly (both in the literal and metaphorical sense). The latter’s work on “The Mirror” is indicative of the skill he frequently shows.
Blues, and Americana flashes abound, but in truth, there’s as much jazz and Latin influence here. “Don’t Tell You Secrets To The Wind” showcase this side, while there’s a disarming honesty about the songs. “Bulletproof” was written 15 years ago at an AA Meeting, but Brent has recently started drinking again (“I think its my midlife crisis” she jokes).
A night of old and new. “The Ocean” from her first record is followed by “Big Talker” one of a clutch of new tunes she plays from a record that is forthcoming, before the bass is played with a bow to give “The One I Love Has Gone” a real country feel.
The second set doesn’t see the need to play with the formula, and the likes of “Hearts On Fire” and “Dark Highway” show her skills perfectly.
It would be fair to say, I think, that for all her obvious talent, Brent is still not the most natural of performers. She introduces a version of Julie London’s “No Moon At All” with the words “I prefer covers to my own, there are some proper songwriters out there” and whilst this might be self-deprecation, there is no need for her to feel inferior to anyone.
At least not when songs like the title track of her 2014 record “Stardust” are in her armoury, to match her take on the Traditional “Lilly Of The West”, while “Raincoat” is another to hint that the new record could be another award winner.
After ostensibly finishing with a cover of Chuck Willis, “What You Gonna Do When Your Baby Leaves You”, they do one more. Another new one, it’s not introduced but may be titled “Use Me Up”, whatever it’s called, though, it is funky fun and shows yet another side to the trio,
One of the most unassuming artists you could wish to see, Bronwynne Brent has talent, skill and superb songs. The last bit is what matters most of course, and those new ones could be really special in time – with or without the accompaniment of Mother Nature.