Local Albums: May 2010 – One and All, the sixth full-length from Pieta Brown, finds the folky at her most relaxed and confident. One and All feels like a commiseration at The Mill: It’s easy, fluid and full of prospective delivered in a comfortable drawl.
The album opens with a double-shot of hopeless romanticism. “Wishes Falling Through the Rain” and “Other Way Around” trade on the same idea–at some point justice should or will prevail. “Wishes” works on a more personal, poetic level, and pleads more than hopes for equity. Brown teases out blurred images of loneliness (“Shadows, just pictures on windows / Your face, soft as the light goes) as guitarist Bo Ramsey doles out minor key fills complimenting her ultimate sentiment: “All this love can’t be in vain.”
“Other Way Around” is the different side of the same coin. Brown offers up certainty, “Someday it will be the other way around,” she sings cooly over the bright shuffle of a brushed snare and a nimble, finger-picked acoustic guitar. This is the sort of seasoned assurance she can give now. Brown brings enough gravity to “Other Way Around,” with her steady delivery, that this doesn’t come off as a platitude but a gentle pat on the back.
However, even the best barroom conversations can wander into unfamiliar and clunky territory. Brown dove-tails into an Earth-Day-anthem toward the end of the record, which finds her digging into a vernacular (“future shock”) that not only sounds odd alongside the other lyrics on the album, but even rubs violently against the more basic binaries in the song (factories versus flowers). “Grass Upon the Hill” is one of the album’s more musically interesting tracks, sticking out a bit because the bite in Brown’s voice is matched in grit from the backing band, but her words never seem to match her passion.
Brown is at her best when she rocks back in her chair and tells you how broken hearts work and that time–and whiskey–heals all wounds.