Thanks to Mac McClure of the Wimberley View, the following review will tell you how beautiful this work is, and why it is their best redording to this date!
Remember the good old days when musicians could actually write songs and play their own instruments?
Think back ... to a time before digital sampling and riff-ripoff were paraded under the guise of originality.
If you do, you will appreciate Mellow Day, the latest offering from Joe and Tree Brunelle.
In spired on the banks of the Blanco River during a stay with Dan and Deb Gafford in Wimberley's Cedar Oak Mesa, Mellow Day combines Hill Country acoustic funk with tight harmonies and good songwriting.Mellow Day, the title track, sets the stage for the entire album, and was an appropriate choice for the mood the Brunelle's were trying to set.
The song paints a picture that would be familiar to most Wimberley residents: "It was a Mellow Day, the sun was shining on the side of the hill, the shadows were at play, the clouds rolled by, in a lazy fashion, the grass grew green with envy. It was a peaceful day, the birds were
singing in the tops of the trees, the wind did a dance, time came and went, through a secret passage. Wonder where it went..." The idea is that "feeling good was never old fashioned," and indeed, in these days of stress and uncertainty, Mellow Day reminds us that "some things are taken for granted." That's good medicine in a world
that has recently overdosed on Anthrax.
Another aspect of the CD that keeps the blood pumping is the solid guitar work of Joe Brunelle, along with contributors Sam Weedman, Joe Ebel, Adrienne Yauk, Rob Wolf, and the rhythms of Tree Brunelle.
You Take My Breath Away, the second track on the CD, is more of a traditional Progressive Country ballad offering, with a certain Nanci Griffith feel about it.
Our Favorite Songs, is exemplary of the funky acoustic rhythms that give the overall effort its refreshing punch.
Wash the Dishes Instead departs from the melodic sound of most of the CD, and it works like a change up during a series of fastballs. Its relatable lyrics and dissident guitar licks make this one of the most interesting pieces of the total package. The lyrics are particularly stellar, letting the listener in on a little teasing between lovers. Tree tells us she has written a song that her significant other is going to love, but, since men are what they are, she isn't going to play it for him... She'll wash the dishes instead. Nice work.
February Angel is another sweet ballad. Simplistic and straight to the point, the song features a haunting fiddle and Joe's expressive voice. Setting the tone for the piece is a nice classical guitar solo, a la the great Willie (if you don't know his last name, sorry...), found in the middle eight.
Hill Country Home is another example of the funky stuff that keeps the toes-a-tappin' throughout Mellow Day.
Hear, She Comes Again is arguably the best track on the album. With a "Johnny Reb" groove and wonderful lyrics, this song has a maternal spirit as Tree wonders aloud if her child could "save the earth." Whether the child is real or figurative, the sentiment is universal.
Crying For You keeps to the album's quest for interesting and melodic riffs alive. An absolutely ear-catching harmony echoes more than the reasons why we are crying, but why we feel like crying.
Old Joe & The River returns to a central theme of Mellow Day - Mother Nature - adding a little mandolin to spice things up. This piece weaves through Tree's Beaujolais-fueled reverie about all things irrelevant in the long run, including college and history, seemingly a metaphor about the wisdom that comes with age.
Echoes in Bed is a bluesy contribution that gives way to
As You Wish, an ode to love that Joe offers to those who can or will hear.
Standing Still closes out the CD with an air of hope and contentment, found in the expressions of passion shared on Mellow Day. The song has a resolve that gives the overall work closure, and features some interesting bass lines (fretless?).
While Mellow Day is not a "story album," it is certainly thematic, filled with fresh feelings and thoughtful, introspective artistry. Although this is speculation, the hunch here is that some of the melodic originality found on Mellow Day, particularly in the wonderful chordal structures, are discovered via open-tuning experimentation -a favorite tool for many true singer-songwriters.
But my favorite aspect of Mellow Day is the maturity found in the songs themselves. It serves as a reminder that most real music lovers are actually over-grown teenagers adrift in a world of meaningless mass-media-hyped creations, aka Brittany Spears or the latest Boy Band Industrial-WASP-rap-daddy wannabe, masquerading as art, lacking any depth or relation to real life as they peddle their brand of soap.
Mellow Day is music the way God intended it to be - relevant and thought-provoking. And this review would be remiss if the excellent engineering went unmentioned. The recording is crisp, clear and clean.