Advertisement

Album Review: Pieta Brown – Paradise Outlaw


Pieta Brown

Paradise Outlaw
www.pietabrown.com

During her show at CSPS in October 2013, Pieta Brown mentioned that she was working on her next album at Justin Vernon’s April Base studios in Fall Creek, Wis. As a fan of Vernon—better known as the frontman and songwriter of Bon Iver—I was anxious to hear the results.

I had concerns that the signature sound that Vernon assembled for his Grammy Award-winning 2011 album would be too heavy-handed for the delicate sound of Brown. But, aside from providing some backing vocals, Vernon doesn’t seem to leave any fingerprints.

Paradise Outlaw is Brown’s sixth full album since her self-titled debut in 2002 and a diversion from the classic country-blues heard on her last album, Mercury, which was recorded with Nashville studio musicians.

“I was thinking a lot about freedom, experimentation, poetry, folk songs, bending forms and voices.” said Brown in a statement about her new album. “I also wrote and delivered half the songs on the banjo, which was completely new for me.”

It’s this approach—coupled with the focus that resulted from recording at a studio where Brown was also staying while making the album—that seems to provide listeners with a bracingly fresh and expressive blend of folk and otherworldly ambience. Paradise Outlaw may be the most distinctly Pieta Brown-sounding record to date.

The presence of banjo on Paradise Outlaw, while new for Brown, is not overbearing and provides counterpoint plucking that helps add movement to the songs. Her remake of Mark Knopfler’s song, “Before Gas and TV,” the lonesome vocals and banjo on Brown’s version feel like a dusty Folkways field recording from Appalachia.

The production on Paradise Outlaw is expansive. Listening to the songs reveals the rich composition in each song. Every feature—every shimmering electric guitar note, quietly bubbling percussion, ringing acoustic strums and shy plunking of the banjo—is audible on close listen. Floating over it all is Brown’s breathy soprano holding court with a mix of despair and hope.


Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV » editor@littlevillagemag.com

Advertisement

Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!

July 2020 marks Little Village’s 19th anniversary. With our community of readers alongside us, we’ll be ready for what the next 19 have in store.

BECOME A SUPPORTER:

Regular

$10/mo or $120/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.

Italic

$20/mo or $240/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.

Bold

$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
LittleVillageMag.com connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.