Photo Credit: Paul Adams
Pieta Brown’s new album, PARADISE OUTLAW is playful at times yet romantically dark at others. It’s strange how the two songs released with home footage on her Youtube page can sound so different without visuals. For the first time ever, I linked Pieta Brown with the haunting Chelsea Wolfe and broken Lykke Li. What I envision is a larger audience now open to her style of folk music. In the age of big image, instant gratification, and over stimulation, more people want to slow down and absorb emotion through music like staring at a painting. No gimmicks, no distractions, just the artist and the work.
There are organic and atmospheric soundscapes on each song from the reverberation of subtle swells and her tender voice. Pitter-patters of the banjo sneak in rolls and arpeggios and then distance themselves only to reappear again. Often sounding more baroque than folk, Pieta proves her artistry with Bo Ramsey co-producing at the helm, for a minimalistic yet completely full sounding aesthetic.
Recorded at Justin Vernon’s studio, the Bon Iver songwriter, wrapped it up in only four days. Vernon sings harmonies on several songs but the stand out collaboration is with Amos Lee on “Do You Know.” The duet was written together, and Amos’s strong voice contrasts greatly against the delicate airy breathe of Pieta.
Also, all over the album is multi-instrumentalist David Mansfield who has played with everyone from Bob Dylan to My Morning Jacket. His mandolin and pedal steel add extra flavor to most the songs, especially the instrumental “Little Swainson.” A song written by Mark Knofpler, “Before Gas and TV” is backed by Pieta’s father Greg Brown. The delicate “Painters Hands,” along with the last track “Rise My Only Rose,” were written well before Pieta’s first album was even recorded, yet are anchors that complete this new album.
When you see a waterfall and all its magnificence, glory, and beauty –in it there is also chaos and calamity. Do you see one or the other first? Pieta Brown has captured this emotional enigma and created a glorious exuberance.