Casey Neill’s voice, especially on his latest album, Brooklyn Bridge, sends a clarion call up and down my spine whenever I listen to it; all at once it is something both crystal clear and yet wonderfully weathered, and I’ve fallen in love with it. When you couple it with Neill’s knack for penning some of the most wonderful blues/rock/folk/punk/whatever-genre lyrics that have ever danced across my eardrums, I think I’ll be on safe footing when I’m finished gushing over it.
In the case of Brooklyn Bridge, specifically, Neill has managed to pour all of the aches and pains earned in a life spent, into music that matters and means something, only to pull free from the mold a damn good album made of an intriguing mixture that blends Indie-Rock, Pop, Folk, Roots-Rock, and Pogue-esque Irish melodies into spellbinding hooks, heartfelt lyrics, and stunning musicianship.
Granted, to paraphrase a famous lyric, he got to this point with more than “a little help” from his friends; specifically in the form of members of The Decemberists, both in the recording studio, and as his current backing band while on tour — Ezra Holbrook and Jenny Conlee, especially.
Of course, it’s impossible to try and put down in words what music sounds like, especially what it may sound like to me, say, as opposed to my sister who thinks anything and everything unrelated to My Chemical Romance or The Used, is worthless, but I’ll give it a try.
Imagine lying down near the ocean and hearing the whisper of waves as you fall asleep, allowing your mind to settle in and turn the sounds into that of lush and supple guitar licks that just dance across your consciousness. Add to that the soft susurration of crickets in the background that gets turned into sure and steady drum work, which blends in seamlessly with every other sound and yet still manages to keep its own unique identity as it guides where everything else is to follow.
Are you with me, so far?
Once you’ve finally pictured all of that and have imagined yourself nearly asleep and hearing the soft dreaming sounds of natural musicianship, the soft cries of birds on the horizon floating in on the breeze help you arrive at Neill’s wonderful voice, as it dances above everything on Brooklyn Bridge.
Hmm. Well, after that, all I can say is that I tried. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a little stunned at how simple and wonderful this album is, that the words to describe it are something just out of my reach. Brooklyn Bridge is an album composed of all the usual things you’d expect in a album crafted by a talented singer/songwriter. Y’know, maybe that’s it. Maybe I’ve allowed myself to grow so jaded by the lack of something along those lines, that I’ve allowed my words to atrophry and fall lifeless to the ground.
All I’m left with is “It rocks!” or “It’s cool!” or, even worse, “Hey, it doesn’t suck!”
Well, Neill’s music deserves more than that. It deserves to be heard, and it deserves a place on your radio-station’s play list, in your album collection, and in your heart. Don’t just take my word for it, though. Click this link and head on over to his myspace page where you’ll be able to listen to a couple of tracks from Brooklyn Bridge, as well as a couple from previous albums.
Until then, please forgive the rambling style of this review… and the nap I probably created when I asked you to close your eyes and imagine yourself by the beach. Then again, maybe you should thank me for the nap. Naps are good, almost as good as this album, even.