Mark BrownMark Brown
Album: Skin & Bone
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 14

Veined with rich seams of Cash (notably on the jaunty booze anthem .Smashed') and Prine ('Cried In Your Bed') and occasionally sporting hints of Tom Waits (listen to the junkyard blues of 'Creosote') and, on 'Pony' and 'Sleep Little Angel', even Jonathan Richman, the Maryland native served his time as a farmer, mechanic, fisherman and carpenter, all of which undoubtedly feed into his songwriting with its sense of a life lived rich in experience, and with a voice to match.

It's been 10 years since his last full length release, so this is making up for lost time with songs that take in bluegrass ('See You Next Time'), blues ('Hurt'), hard country chugs ('When Your Sister Comes'), ('Granny'), twang ('Hatchet Man') and, on 'Trouble', elements of electronic music. And, despite its distorted trombone intro, 'Spaceship', with its sparse upright bass, turns out to be a sort of relaxed cosmic crooner.

As illustrated by the appropriately titled chilling 'Icy Bob', which weaves a sort of David Lynch narrative to a saw accompaniment, Brown can spin a good tale while the touching home evocations of album closer 'Granny' a honky tonk waltz tribute to his late grandmother that recalls his days trawling for cod, shows he can strike emotional nerves too. The album may be called 'Skin & Bone', but there's plenty of flesh here too.

Mike Davies