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Brendon Massei
Brendon Massei
No More Sad Eyes
No Town

(CD)

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What kind of music is Brendon Massei making? Folk? Country? Pop? I really can't say. It's mostly acoustic. It's got shades of bluegrass, hints of the blues. It's very pretty. Where do record stores put his CDs? No idea. I know where I put them, though -- right next to my CD player, where they're ready for a spin at a moment's notice.

I guess Massei is a singer-songwriter, although it seems a bit strange to think of him that way. His songs don't sound singer-songwriter-y. They sound like songs your grandpaw might have sung to your mom when she was little...sort of. They're not old-fashioned songs by any means, and while Massei may not be writing songs about microchip brain implants and the International Space Station, he's clearly singing about the life of a 21st-century human trying to make sense of his world.

Massei's first release, At Station Four (under the name Supperbell Roundup), was musically upbeat, but pretty dark lyrically. No More Sad Eyes goes without most of the banjo picking that gave At Station Four its energy, but finds Massei in a more positive, if not optimistic, mood. The music on this one is almost all guitar picking, with just a touch of banjo, electric guitar, bass and drums on some songs. At first I really missed the banjo's presence, but after a few listens the pure prettiness of the guitar lines won me over. That and Massei's honest, confident singing is what really makes these songs work.

The CD's opening track, "Get me away, and get me back strong" is the one that comes closest to being a rock song (or at least electric folk), although it doesn't really try very hard -- drums and bass make only a brief appearance, before and after which Massei's singing and playing easily fill in the gaps. "The ones most valued" is just the kind of sweet, longing, song that Massei excels at. Probably the prettiest song on the CD is the last, "They call me what they will"; it really highlights Massei's gift for combining convincing vocals and rich guitar picking with fine songwriting.

I like this CD, and Massei's previous one, a lot. They're really worth checking out.

-- irving bellemead

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