Rave reviews continue for Maggie Brown's debut
from Kodiak, Alaska to the New York Times.
She is receiving airplay on Country, Rock and AAA
stations across the country. Including the widely
popular "World Cafe" and an upcoming performance
before a national audience on "Mountain Stages"
Maggie Brown is a little bit country and a little bit rock & roll. Now this thirtysomething is about to realize a dream with the release of her self-titled debut album. This is a dream she's been pursuing since she began performing as a young girl-barely a teenager-after she was touched by seeing one of the true spirits, a founding father of rock & roll.
"Yeah, Jerry Lee Lewis. He's one of my heroes. We're from the same town," says Brown in a welcoming Southern drawl. The town is Ferriday, Louisiana, across the Mississippi River where she now resides in Natchez, Mississippi. "I think that struck a chord in me the most. I got goose bumps seein' him perform."
A solid guitarist, singer and songwriter, Brown's debut is mind-blowingly fantastic-a singular achievement from an artist who has been practicing her craft for the last 20 years. Brown is going to be responsible for giving listeners some goose bumps of their own. Her release is an honest record that is equal parts Southern rock and country, with blues and folk flavoring. While comparisons to Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi and Lucinda Williams are just a few inevitable musical touchstones for comparison, Maggie has her own incomparable style. Add a dash of Tom Petty, Delbert McClinton...even Chris Whitley's classic songs from Living With the Law, and you've got a sense of Brown's musical range.
"My parents had a real love for music," says Brown. "My mom had really eclectic tastes and exposed me to a lot of music growing up. Johnny Cash, Creedence, Jackson Browne, Hank Williams, Janis Joplin. She instilled in me a great love for many styles of music, not to mention the fact that she was always supportive of me to pursue my wanting to be a musician."
After years of playing roadhouse honky-tonks, a stint in Nashville writing and even a period of six years when she stopped singing, she returned home after the death of her mom. She went to college, got married, had some kids, but never gave up writing. "I've been carrying these songs around in a paper sack for a long time. It's been years of travelin', writin' lyrics on bar napkins and all kinds of stuff," she says. "I never thought I'd have an opportunity to record an album like this."
Maggie's self-titled debut is 44 minutes of confident and perfectly executed songs. When she's not rocking on songs like "Forty Dollars," "Mosquito Net" or "Used Cars," she evokes a nostalgic and melancholic sense of storytelling.
"Jacob's Eyes" reminds me of Pretender-era Jackson Browne. Shifting from fourth-gear rockers to ballads and mid-tempo songs is another charm of this album. "Black River" is Lucinda's "Change The Locks" as seen through the eyes of Chris Whitley's "Big Sky Country." "Just constant reminders of where I woke up/and nowhere to go but home," Maggie sings on the beautifully orchestrated "Crazy," a distant cousin to John Prine's "Angel Of Montgomery" and Sheryl Crow's "Home." It's one of the highlights on the record. "Full Moon" is an equal partner to Jimmie Dale Gilmore's "Dallas" that captures the lyrical beauty and sweeping brevity of what I call Southernacana-a transformative twist on the "Americana" label.
And like some of the greatest Southern musicians and literary writers, Brown's songs capture a sense of place, a love of community and family, the curious influence of religion and race, yet aspire to universal appeal. "Lots of people give me labels," says Brown. "I'm a product of the South. I'm just happy that I got to make this record. I set out to record these songs I been carrying around with me. I'd love to get a regional following-if any of these songs make a connection, I guess the rest will follow."
And with any good sense, many music lovers will follow the trail to Brown's wonderful debut album.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Forty Dollars
2. I Like it
3. Full Moon Over Dallas
4. Used Cars
5. Jacob's Eyes
6. Black River Blues
7. Nowhere to go but Crazy
9. Mosquito Net
12. Looking Back