With a blustery beat to guide its gilded swagger, “Don’t Come Around No More” and its understated string harmonies come ripping through the silence ever so softly, making way for a precious lead vocal from Brooks Forsyth that can be found in all eleven of the songs that his new record, So Much Beyond Us, has in store for anyone who picks it up this spring. Released last year to critical acclaim, the latest LP from the Carolina-native is loaded with loving lyrical ballads ala “Heaven is but Going Home,” “Anna Lee” and “Girl from Caroline,” while also sporting a vicious vibrancy that has become all too rare in modern Americana.
There’s a lot of texture to the strings in the Dylan-esque “Little Coal Mining Town,” bruising “Ain’t Got the Time” and “Seasick James,” and through the indulgent master mix, we’re never robbed of a drop of the guitars’ natural tonality and fiery grit. “Restless at Home, Lonesome on the Road” and “Cast My Dreams to the Wind,” the first single from the record, feature two of the simpler instrumental arrangements on the whole of the LP, but even in their minimalism manage to impart just as much emotion through their melodies as they do their lightly-reverberated lyrics.
The vocal harmonies get a little complicated in “Heaven is but Going Home,” but in black and white tunes like “Blue Railroad Train,” they’re rustic and fluid to the point of sounding like vintage folk songs instead of original material. Forsyth goes out of his way to avoid sounding too old school in this record, but he also isn’t afraid to wear his diverse influences on his sleeve. There’s shades of Delta blues here, a dash of midcentury country & western music there, and from beginning to end in So Much Beyond Us, the style never sounds particularly fractured or unstable despite its multidimensional design.
Aesthetically, the music video for “Cast My Dreams to the Wind” is even more tantalizing an experience than its source material is. While I like this song on its own, the video – which centers on Forsyth and his fellow players jamming on the song in the picturesque backdrop of Victor, Colorado – provides an additional layer to the narrative that makes it so much more memorable than it would have been otherwise. Independent artists of Forsyth’s persuasion often don’t put this kind of work into the promotion of their singles, but instead of coming off like a sellout, this cat ends up looking like a deeper artist than most of his peers have in recent years.
I’m a fairly new fan of Brooks Forsyth, but after becoming thoroughly addicted to his sound with the release of So Much Beyond Us, I have to say that I’m really very eager to hear more of his work in the future. There’s a lot of potential here that is only being partly exploited in theatrical tracks like “Cast My Dreams to the Wind,” “Anna Lee” and “Restless at Home, Lonesome on the Road,” and if he remains on this present artistic trajectory, I highly doubt that this will be the last time that you see his name in the headlines.
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