The unmistakable sound of Brett Reel adopts a slightly new style with this full length album. The voice is still strong in the identity, as are these long-form musings that make up the lyrics. In short though, Lay all your Wisdom on Me offers a diverse musicality and a welcomed series of stories that venture out a little further than the self.
Introducing is Small Town Blues, a song that details its background and inspiration line by line, whilst slowly building a pop-rock ambiance to support the increasing passion and angst of the delivery.
First Dates follows and the pop-rock sound continues, with a memorable riff to guide things. Now we’re back in the reflective intimacy zone presented on Hotdogs and Vodka, but there’s a vagueness – a relatable level of distance that allows the song to be anyone’s; a quality that helps elevate things significantly.
Soon we head towards the more creatively unexpected with a heartfelt and trap-rhythmed This Loneliness Was Happiness. Melodically meandering, structured with lows and highs for a vastly pop-like progression, the song has a mellow contemporary groove and some deeply human contemplations that allow the mind to really wander.
Unimpressive Me is an outright highlight, musically and conceptually. The introduction sets the mood well, a beautifully organic rock set-up, taking a full minute to let things engage before the voice appears. Then we get poetic wonderings, personal honesty, vulnerability. Fantastic writing, melancholic in topic, though with an air of optimism in the asking – bright and uplifting in tone. The album’s title comes into play and threads begin to appear between tracks and ideas.
Benjamin is equally wonderful, inspiring and forward thinking, parentally focused and warming in being so. The song is short, many of these are in fact, but they stand out regardless for their melodic simplicity and absolute lyrical reality. The One With The Feels also lights up the room with a strange musical brightness and lyrical struggle juxtaposed.
Then we get some quick guitar rhythms for a light indie-funk or pop-punk feel as Road Trip takes on the classic Brett Reel imagery and scene-setting united, with personal reflections on the role of the self within all of this.
That intimate angle draws focus all the more so for a pure and pretty sounding Stars, with a gorgeously mellow resolve for a brief fall-away from the rhythm – right before things get all the more detailed as our protagonist digs into his memories. The back and forth here, between rhythm and stillness, energy and calm, helps make this another highlight. Still unusual in that Brett Reel outpouring of seemingly unedited musings, but musically satisfying enough to veer off towards modern pop.
Old Man With a Hat looks forward again and is beautifully heartfelt, imagery-laden and musically pure – vulnerability and optimism shine with wonderful brightness. A personal favourite, paving the way well towards an acoustic and rather anthem-like closer that is Maybe – a little Oasis-like (or Beatles-ish, rather) in chord progression, with minimal, whispered, poetic lyrics, and a melody that feels like a completely fresh step for Brett.
While the vocal and writing qualities remain true to the artist, this album feels like a completely different collection of moments to the EP. It’s very title leads us off in a new direction, and the songs proceed to follow through with similarly contemplative, emotional and uncertain ponderings.
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