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Friday, June 28, 2013

Brian Larney - At The Starting Line

Brian Larney – At The Starting Line
2013, Nunya
Brian Larney has spent much of his musical career contributing to the efforts of bands.  All the while he was building up a significant catalog of songs.  Stepping out on his own, Larney revealed a refined songwriting style similar to Neil Finn and Andy Partridge.  Larney recently released his second album, At The Starting Line.  It is a quietly brilliant collection of observational songs with a distinctive 1970’s flair.
Larney opens with the catchy energy of "You Me and Allison".  The song is a moment of escapist fancy amidst strumming guitars and a melody line that won't quit. "Solace" is a quiet country-fueled number about a young lady who struggles to maintain faith in a world governed by Hobbesian actors. . Larney’s melody is catchy, and the arrangement wraps perfectly around it.  "Closed Door" stumbles along in uncomfortable fashion, relying on a memorable melody to pull a troubled and messy arrangement through. 
Larney digs into an early rock sound somewhere between The Beatles and Elvis Costello on "Whistling Past The Graveyard". Larney turns up the wattage on charm on a song you'll have difficulty getting out of your heart. Things take an angular turn on "The Plaintiff", with Larney laying down some deliciously discomfiting guitar licks. The transition into a catchy chorus is a brilliant turn.  "Before The Shadows Grow Too Long" is a pensive love song that underscores Larney's talent for sweet melodies. His writing style is reminiscent at times of James Taylor, and his sound would have sold a lot of records in the late 1970's. 
"Dogma (On A Leash)" has a bluesy feel that's accessible and fun. The "don't tread on me" message is delivered in low key fashion to the ups and downs of a dynamic and memorable melody. "Why God Why" is a gentle folk/pop anthem with a deceptively catchy chorus. Larney rises up into a sweet tenor voice here, gliding along on a melody that's as smooth as silk.  "Chain Of Words" lopes along at a fast walk, with Larney pacing the song with an accusatory but well voice vocal. The song intrigues based on its mix of musical lightness and emotional disturbance. "Chance" has an urgent feel, like an appeal not made but nonetheless hoped for. Larney rails against the unfairness of it all over a dynamic, guitar driven arrangement that's a real treat. Larney brings listeners back to Earth with "Never Argue With The Devil", a singer/songwriter ballad that dwells in melancholy. There's a baroque beauty to the arrangement that is teased out by the Larney's metronomic acoustic guitar. 
Brian Larney is a pleasant surprise on At The Starting Line. He manages to write accessible songs with melodies you'll walk away humming. Larney misses once in a while, perhaps, and his occasional pitch issues are a distraction, but his charisma and voice are distinctive enough to pull off anything he wants to do. 
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
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