Bosque Brown – Baby
(Burnt Toast Vinyl, March 3, 2009)
By Matthew Ralph
Like the great Brian Wilson, Mara Lee Miller just wasn’t made for these times. At least in the way she delivers her rickety dust bowl tunes as the vocalist of the where-the-heck-have-they-been-for-the-last-four-years Texas band Bosque Brown.
Forgetting for a moment that the advance copy of Baby, Bosque Brown’s sophomore album, came digitally and has been playing repeatedly on my iPod for the past two weeks, it’s not hard for me to imagine Miller’s hypnotic voice and the subtle instrumentation layered behind it playing on a tube radio in a dimly lit parlor in some no name Texas town as tumble weeds rustle outside a nearby window with the passing of a steam locomotive.
Like a good storyteller, Miller’s voice inspires the imagination to run wild like that, putting you in a different time and space where so much of the excess we’ve grown accustomed to in life is stripped away.
She doesn’t accomplish this alone. Like on the band’s debut, the instrumentation plays the supporting actor to Miller’s command performance, eloquently complimenting her star appeal with just the right punch of the snare, touch of the piano or crash of the high-hat.
Baby isn’t one of those recordings that will win listeners over with a 30-second soundbyte or light the mp3 blog world on fire with a flavor of the week song you have to listen to to maintain your hipster cred (though “This Town” and “Train Song” are really catchy). For the unitiated, the 12-song recording might even come across as being too slow to the punch, too sparse in its delivery, a black and white movie in a High Definition color world.
I started to think this of the band’s first record until I saw them live and was completely blown away by the raw talent and charisma of more than just the leading lady. This time around, I knew better than to write off too quickly a record that can’t be fully appreciated in a hurry, a record that wasn’t necessarily made for these times.