Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, singer/songwriter Bronwynne Brent is entrenched in the rough authenticity only those who really know can claim. Her Deep Black Water, released earlier this year, is evidence of just how much she knows.
Some have called the record “gothic Americana,” while others resort to catchalls like “indie folk” or “roots” or whatever. What this is is an exploration of soulfulness and of reality, something done with the spotlight turned away and the limelight shut off. While Deep Black Water begs to be heard, part of it feels like a private conversation we’re intruding on.
Brent doesn’t seem to care about accolades, but she’s going to get a lot of them. Her forward-thinking approach mixes in the bits of neo-soul, making the rounds today with the roots and Americana vibes of yesteryear. She rises like an angel from murky waters, rumbling all the while about damaged relationships and the threadbare shards of love.
But whilst Brent travels familiar territory, her nose for sonic splendour creates a different set of standards to live by.
Her debut record opens with “Like the Thunder,” a poignant piece of music that has her frank, sharp quality speaking candid words. “If it’s crying time, just tell me so,” she sings over soft wave of sound.
Featuring the pedal steel guitar of Ricky Ray Jackson, the drums of J.J. Johnson, the bass of Chris Maresh, the guitar of David Grissom, and the Hammond B3 of Ian McLagan, Deep Black Water doesn’t want for intricate instrumentations. Brent’s voice and guitar are gifts.
More of the “nobody’s watching” honest populates the record on tracks like the painfully gorgeous “Secret” and the beautiful “The Ocean.”
Brent’s not averse to kicking things up into a higher gear, however, with stompers like “Building A Wall” and “Wrecked My Mind.” The latter had me thinking about Amy Winehouse with a folk slant, with Brent’s sassy diction calling to mind the deceased marvel. McLagan’s splashes of Hammond B3 will take listeners to church, Lord have mercy.
An exquisite record of soul-spilling radiance, Bronwynne Brent’s Deep Black Water is well worth sinking into with both feet. The clever singer/songwriter’s debut, produced by Mike McCarthy, should be heard and heard often by those with an appreciation for goodness and beauty.