Grey Reverend has bubbling under on and around the Ninja Tune label for a couple of years now, he popped up on the Cinematic Orchestra’s last outing and that band’s leader J Swinscoe has released this album on his Motion Audio imprint. The influences working on Reverend, or Larry D Brown as he was christened back in New York, would appear to include the likes of John Martyn, Bert Jansch and Nick Drake but the artist he actually cites is Elliot Smith, the late American singer/songwriter. Brown is also a friend of Jose Gonzalez and wrote the instrumental Little Jose in his honour. He has a pared back style, not quite just voice and guitar but often not a lot more and gets by on the quality of that voice combined with a gift for songwriting and picking skills which come together particularly well on My Hands and The Payoff, which also features Austin Peralta (who tragically passed away not long after the recording). The release notes compare Brown with Will Oldham and Ray LaMontagne as well as those mentioned above but he’s rather more positive than that might suggest, not happy happy joy joy of course but there is little in the way of wallowing which makes a change.
The sound is pretty good too, open, modern but not slick. An honest record in all respects really and one that reveals the heart of a musician with empathy and compassion.