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Bentley's Bandstand: Brett Dennen, Lover Boy

Posted By Karen Young On May 4, 2011 @ 11:05 pm In Arts & Culture,Music,spotlight | No Comments

BY BILL BENTLEY

Brett Dennen, Lover Boy, Dualtone Records

There are a handful of young singer-songwriters now who feel like they’re redefining the style, bringing fresh blood to it in a way which electrifies that crowd. Brett Dennen is one of the very best, crossing emotional openness with inventive melodies in ways where the impossible seems right in front of him. Over a handful of albums he has recorded several permanent keepers, and appears just a breath away from breaking into the big time. Lover Boy’s first single, “Sydney (I’ll Come Running),” rolls out like an unstoppable train. It’s got it all, and even if it didn’t become the hit it obviously deserved to be doesn’t mean it was any less worthy. The other dozen songs on the album don’t quite reach that pinnacle but manage to make the case this is someone who will not be denied.

Dennen has called this new music something he’s aimed at the dancers, but it’s really not that different than anything in his past. Maybe a little more punchy with some obvious syncopations to tangle the legs a bit quicker, but what’s really striking is his ability to capture the pulsing present in all its glory. He’s very likely done some rocky traveling to get to this place of grace, not to mention the Californian’s now nearly as skinny as a popsicle stick, but what Brett Dennen has clearly learned along the way is that right now is what we’ve got. How you color it will be how you live it, and even if he’s not afraid to use blue now and then, overall it’s all about the yellows, greens and oranges. Melancholia may be an okay place to visit but there’s no reason to move in. And if Al Green doesn’t hurry up and cover “Only Rain,” then the Memphis Right Reverend is missing a slick trick and possibly a boatload of cash money.

Lover Boy probably won’t be the album to induce worldwide Brettmania, but still it’s an exciting step in that direction. Who knows: maybe it’s time for a “Best Of” collection, picking the ten songs from his entire catalogue to show just what we have here? Or find a producer who can help him reach the higher ground that’s so clearly within his grasp. It’s so close, in fact, Brett Dennen can almost reach right out and touch it. This little lover boy is ready.

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