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Friday, July 29, 2011

Brother Lou - The Devil In Me

Brother Lou - The Devil In Me
2011, Brother Lou

Brother Lou (AKA Luis Dominguez), is a Vienna, Virgina-based singer/songwriter, but his colorful history has seen him in bands all along the east coast.  Settling into the Washington, D.C. scene, Brother Lou has quietly become one of the better Indie songwriters on the east coast, earning awards from the VH-1 Song Of The Year contest, the Great American Song Contest (2011 finalist) and American Songwriter magazine.  2011 finds Brother Lou at it again with the release of The Devil In Me, his follow-up to 2008’s As Good As You Want.  The Devil In Me is a fun mix of blues, folk and Americana that’s part Leon Redbone and part Big Rude Jake.

Brother Lou opens with the title track, a tasty bit of vaudevillian hobo blues.  Imagine Big Rude Jake in a stripped down setting.  "The Devil In Me" is a prayer of thanks that's counterintuitive but fun.  "Can't Make You Shine Anymore" is a fun little number covering the war of love, the love of war, and all the amazing things that happen in the space between.  The song is offered here in a wonderfully stripped down blues arrangement that is appealing to the ears.  "Through The Wind" is a mellow ballad praising the important things in life (love, happiness, peace, friendship).  The song gets points for intent and for Brother Lou's clear, steady voice. 

"I Go Down" is a solid autobiographical number from a man who struggles against his own inner demons to hold up his end of a relationship.  He consistently falls away, and this is one more time he's coming back seeking forgiveness.  "The Hungry Girl" is an amusing blues/folk exposition on an overly dependent upstairs neighbor.  Brother Lou goes for big entertainment value, but borders on mean-spirited humor at times here.  "Don't Want To Hide Anymore" is a pensive, run-on ballad that's highly emotive.  Centered in loneliness, the song is a strong Adult Contemporary entry, but does drag a bit.

"This Song" is a half-glass full song written from the perspective of a songwriter who lost a relationship but gained a song.  Mild wit and a health get-on-with-life attitude pervade here in a catchy but reserved arrangement.  Brother Lou missteps a bit with "When You Lose At Love", a melancholy ballad with a pitchy lead vocal that distracts from a fairly decent melody.  He recovers well on "Dancin' Shoes", a song of simple temptation and everlasting consequence that's catchy and more fun than it should be.  "I'm Gonna Rise Again" is awash in human imperfection and unreasonable optimism, opening with a promise and closing on the loneliness that comes when such are unfulfilled.  Brother Lou closes with "Bad Gravity", an offbeat song of excuses and misdirection.  The music is melancholy, but the vocal line is vibrant; the dichotomy is a bit jarring, and makes for an almost uncomfortable close.

Brother Lou sets an ambitious course with The Devil In Me, covering vast stylistic ground while trying to build a cohesive album that flows.  The effort is generally a success, although there isn't really a breakout moment on the album.  It's more of a slow-and-steady wins the race approach, with Brother Lou traversing love, loss and the many ways that people try to understand the world around them.  Accordingly, The Devil In Me ranges widely, but Brother Lou manages to tie it all together in a fashion that, while not storybook, works.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Brother Lou at  The Devil In Me is available via as a CD or Download.  The album is also available through iTunes.

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