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Monday, July 6, 2009

Review: Brother Lou - As Good As You Want

Brother Lou - As Good As You Want
2008, Hollywood ACSEP

Brother Lou goes to work 9-5 every day to pay the bills. The newlywed Miami resident has more than enough on his plate, but still finds time to write, record and co-produce his own songs, not to mention performing live. Those of you in the Miami area might know Brother Lou as the host of Luna Star Cafe's bi-monthly Open Mike night. He's also been on various local radio shows in the Miami/Jacksonville region, but is just starting to make a push into the rest of the Southeast United States. Brother Lou's latest CD, As Good As You Want, gives the sonic picture of a singer/songwriter with roots that straddle the line between 1960's folk icons and Country/Rock/Americana artists of today.

Brother Lou's voice is deep and full and reminiscent of another era. I've spent a couple of days now trying to figure out who he sounds like and I finally figured it out. In the deeper elements of his voice Brother Lou sounds strangely like Jim Morrison, but never completely and never for long. This familiarity combined with strong songwriting and an easy presentation style makes for a highly accessible album in As Good As You Want. Brother Lou opens with Nothing In The Sky, a look back at the days after the September 11 attacks on the United States. The song questions the actions that people take on behalf of God and expresses a low simmering anger that will never go away. Let Go is the recognition that sometimes a relationship reaches a point where nothing you do is going to save it. Brother Lou's vocal delivery is full and rich and sprinkled with wit, creating a highly listenable and enjoyable experience. Hey Jesus is an energetic Folk/Rock song is about hypocrisy and religion; taking to task those who profess belief in God and Jesus yet act in ways that seem contradictory ("With the God they've conjured up what do they need the Devil for?"). Brother Lou mentions such public figures as Paula White, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and "Kennedy" in a scathing and witty diatribe you won't want to miss.

As Good As You Want has an almost Celtic flavor to it and reminds listeners that life is what you make of it. Elizabeth is a beautiful and highly personal song about the letting go that needs to occur when someone you love passes on. Brother Lou conveys the emotion and depth of feeling you might expect on this subject without sounding trite. Rain takes on the political campaign process and the shallow nature of both politics and its practitioners. Wit tempers vitriol in what turns out to be a highly intelligent and descriptive song that should be a primer for political science classes everywhere. As Good As You Want closes out with Black And White Kisses, a song about revisiting a lost love from film that's left behind. This is something of a tearjerker about someone who maybe appreciates his lost love more now than when she was alive.

Brother Lou is highly personal in his songwriting. Lyrically he's highly descriptive; this can be both a blessing and a curse at times, but Lou's unadorned arrangements and honest, everyman delivery makes it work. As Good As You Want is the sort of album that should do very well in folk circles and I wouldn't be surprised a few years down the line to see Brother Lou become a staple on the folk circuit. Brother Lou has a lot to say and a lot of stories to tell. Take some time to listen; it'll be As Good As You Want.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Brother Lou at You can purchase a copy of As Good As You Want at, or you can download the album from iTunes.

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