Patrick Brooks
Album: Rust And Weeds
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 11

And still we keep on discovering new blood on the Austin, Texas music scene! Guitarist/singer/songwriter Patrick Brooks is a true-born Americana stylist with a clear bias towards, and a keen affinity for, the Guy Clark/Townes Van Zandt school of songwriting (he covers one song by each writer here on his debut album). And yet this record seems to take a while to establish Patrick’s personal identity, for his own writing veers between the modestly engaging (around 85%) and the surely crafted but comparatively routine.

It’s mildly unfortunate that the first couple of songs on the album don’t make much of a mark first time round: Another Cigarette is one of those stock-in-trade lonesome-barroom laments that could’ve been written any time in the past 40 years almost (tho’ I guess that’s no fault in itself), whereas Road Trip just shuffles past without leaving a trace on the memory. Things improve lots with the atmospheric Rusted Wire And Rotted Split Rail (Patrick’s strongest suit is the depiction of abandoned industry in the rust belt factory towns, a theme further pursued on The Old Feed Mill and the disc’s title song). The Annals Of My Youth memorably voices Patrick’s nostalgia, his affection for the high lonesome sound wafting across the airwaves acting as the springboard for a raft of memories, while Hoping You’ll Walk By is a mid-tempo lovelorn heartbreak song in the classic mould. And yet the opus of which Patrick’s evidently most proud is the spoken-delivered Lefty’s Song, a direct homage to Townes that kinda picks up Lefty’s story after he sold out Pancho at the end of Townes’ own story.

The album’s feel is very much honest and live, with virtually no frills – Patrick’s own guitar playing is exemplary, confident and melodious in the standard bluegrass-country fingerpicking manner, while he enjoys some pleasing and sympathetic support on several tracks from Richie Stearns (banjo), Ethan Jodziewicz (bass), Judy Hyman (fiddle) and Dana Billings (percussion). You can’t fault Patrick for his homegrown straight-up conviction, and this record proves he’s paid his dues and with his authentic and contemplative snapshots of life and living he can ride in there with the rest of the Austin luminaries and hold his head up high.

David Kidman