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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Brion Riborn - Mediocrity Is An Adequate Lover

Brion Riborn - Mediocrity Is An Adequate Lover
2011, Brion Riborn
Brion Riborn is a Michigan-based singer/songwriter whose muse is as cold and unrelenting as the Great Lakes waters of his home.  Traveling the darker waters of human existence, Riborn’s songs often play on loss, grief and the shortcomings of mankind, both individually and collectively.  His latest album, Mediocrity Is An Adequate Lover, is no exception.

Riborn is capable of singing with a gusto and pizzazz that makes you think of a big-time front man.  That charisma and urgent energy is there on the opening track, "Foursquare".  Riborn shows a lyric voice with some delightfully rough edges in this catchy, alt-Americana number.  "I Was A Lover" continues in a similar vein; Americana with something of a garage rock mystique.  But the album is about to be overtaken by a dark turn in emotive style and pace.  "Emergency Exit Routes" is stylish in approach, but falls quickly into a repetitive pattern that is tough to take.  The saving grace of the song is Riborn's voice, which soars in spite of getting stuck in a melodic rut.

"More Of Less" is an anthem for difficult times, and a reminder of the joy of simple things.  Riborn's poignant morality tale hits all the right notes, portraying a writing and storytelling style that's part Springsteen and part Marc Cohn.  Dark musical emotions swirl on "Such A Liar", while the song takes on a distinctively whiney tone that's bundled in pure Emo disaffection.  Riborn sinks further into the emotional muck and mire with "Walls & Wargames", a pain-riddled run-on sentence in song.  "Hold" sticks with this run-on, almost stream-of-conscious writing style, exploring the loss of losing a loved one, and the desire to hold onto the pain as a token of the past.  Lyrically well-written, Riborn simply maintains inertia for too long, both in this song and across the middle leg of the album.

"Times That We Forget" finds Riborn caught up in a melancholy reverie of memories and reflections.  There is an element of self-awareness that emerges from the mix of pain and wistful recollection that could be seen as the first green shoots of healing.  "The House On The Hill" opens with spooky organ music that quickly settles into hymn-like resolution.  This feeds into recollections of childhood and the paths that bring us together over time.  Riborn is in excellent voice in this pensive number, but his overly emotive vocal style once again takes on a whiney feel at times.   

"This Endless Sky" is a dreamy ballad with a classic theme; looking at the sky and dreaming that perhaps the other is looking at the same star.  Riborn's path is a bit darker here, as the other is perhaps looking from the other side of the veil.  Nevertheless, it's a gorgeous love ballad in spite of the darkness that hangs over it.  Riborn's poetry stands out here; written from the heart in deeply emotive terms, but retaining enough structure and style to stand on its own.  One might presume that suicide is the nexus of "On The Eve Of The Death Of A Beautiful Girl", but Riborn seems more concerned with others learning the power of words to change the course of ultimate decisions.  The sentiments here are wrought of pain but yield beauty in the end, over simplistic arrangement that works perfectly here.  Riborn sinks back into disaffection with "Weeds", sliding back into his struggle to understand mortality and the events that led to his particular heartbreak.  Riborn closes with "Futility", a post-modern glancing blow into Electronica that explores our inability to change the cycle of life and death, nor slow the passage of time.  The fatalistic turn here is a step forward in understanding, but definitely lacks the sort of resolution you might look for in a pop album.

Brian Riborn brings a disconnected sense to Mediocrity Is An Adequate Lover, treading heavily on the themes of death, grief and the unerring human capacity to fall short of perfection.  Riborn grieves a host of causes here, both present and future.  His emotive and dark songwriting is obsessed with the minutiae of the shortcomings of human existence.  The music itself is generally beside the point, merely serving as quasi-generic landscapes against which Riborn's stylistic tales of woe are told.  Mediocrity Is An Adequate Lover is ultimately intriguing, although there are moments in song that are perhaps as hard to get through as the events that inspired them.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Brion Riborn at or  Mediocrity Is An Adequate Lover is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via iTunes.

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