Picks and Pans Review: Cryin', Lovin', Leavin'
The 1991 arrival of singer-songwriter Marty Brown signaled a return to hillbilly twang and gut-level soul. Brown's no-frills, low-tech brand of country is a welcome relief from the current crop of Nashville cats who get inspired by dusting off a copy of the Eagles' greatest hits. Brown is the real deal, harkening back to country's good old days, when the mournful, moody style of Hank Williams and George Jones ruled. Ironically, the very qualities that endear Brown to critics as well as his fervent fans are what keeps him off the charts. He's perceived as being "too country," i.e., not homogenized enough for a generation raised on ersatz good ol' boys. On his third album's soaring title track, he invokes Buddy Holly's tender boyishness, while on the stampeding "It Tortures Me," Brown adds a searing edginess that puts to shame all the pretty boys in hats. Brown's songs are short, simple and direct, dealing with longing, love, good times and a deep and often dark spirituality that's unspoken but never unnoticed. Let Garth rack up the sales figures: Marty Brown's aching country soul is the answer to a prayer. (MCA)