Artist: Brad Cole
Album: Lay It Down
Label: Brad Cole Music
Release Date: 04/15/2016
My knowledge of—and taste for—Brad Cole’s music stems from Folk Alliance, where Cole certainly fits into their broad definition of folk, so his newest album’s bent toward a jazzy, R&B, upbeat sound, complete with vibraphone, flute, brushes and a Brazilian-beach vibe threw me for a about half a song. Once I shook off my ill-preconceived notions, however, I sat back and enjoyed the whole album.
“Is It Sunny Where You Are?” send a message to the loved one a traveling musician leaves behind, again and again on tour, and sometimes forever. Among the most heartfelt of the tunes on this album, this song feels particularly personal. “Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming” follows a similar intensely emotional theme; expect to be grabbed in the heart by this one.
Most of the tunes concern love, or the debris love can leave in its wake. In an unfortunate choice of titles (IMHO, as a Suzanne) the chorus of “Hey Susanne” for example, is “You kiss just like and angel, while the Devil makes your plans,” set to an upbeat tempo and bossa nova vibe. “You Fucked Me Up” is a takeoff on late-’60s R&B (think James & Bobby Purify, maybe Curtis Mayfield). Close your eyes, and you see three or four guys in matching pastel suits and patent-leather shoes, slowly gesturing in rhythm.
Cole’s got a good voice, and most of his well-crafted songs would be just as effective without the sophisticated production here, but for me, it means you can pay serious attention to the words and music or, in a different mode, just kick back and let the cool, jazzy vibe flow over you, and tune in between sips of that end-of-the-day libation. Either way, it works.
– Suzanne Cadgène