Take Effect Reviews

Red Crow Berkalin, 2019

9/10

Listen to Red Crow

A songwriter with a penchant for storytelling and poetic wordplay, Randy Lewis Brown was born and bred in the south, and his work follows suit with authentic Americana on Red Crow.

“One Horse Town” gets the listen started with warm strumming and breezy melodies as Brown’s wise and soothing vocals guide us through the spirited Americana, and “Trouble With Me” follows with an introspective setting as strings complement the mood with grace.

Near the middle, “She’s The Only Woman” offers a shuffling pace of honky tonk fun and a bouncy bass line, while “Trust The Sun” takes a turn into rootsy balladry that’s as timeless as it beautiful.

Deeper cuts include the vocally strong and rugged “Other Campfires”, and “Barlow Road” embraces folk ideas with great results. “Goodnight Good Luck” ends the album with cautious contemplation, as Brown exits the listen as skilled as he started it.

A listen with strong, vivid imagery and incredible musicianship, Randy Lewis Brown has been at it for 5 decades now, and it certainly shows in his stirring, calculated and instantly memorable song craft.

Travels well with: Terry Klein- Tex; Chad Richard- Worthy Cause

Audiophile Review

Twenty years ago, I would have not given the latest work by Randy Lewis Brown a passing thought. At that time, I was not in any manner a fan of Country music. Times have changed and while I am still not disposed to that twangy, lost my love and my truck music of the 1950's, I do like a Country song, albeit more in a rock style. Such is the case with "Red Crow." Originally from Shreveport and raised in Texas, it seems natural Country music would be in Brown's blood. Yet, however, Brown is also a magnificent storyteller. He weaves tales of despair and redemption, loneliness, and sings about times past. One thing I did enjoy is the ample use of a Hammond B3, one of my more favorite instruments. Also joining in are all the instruments found in the Country genre, fiddle, harmonica, mandolin and of course, drums, guitar and bass. While this is a work of Country, it is done in a rock style and I even detected a hint of funk at several points along the way. Twenty years ago, no, not a chance. Today? I thought it was a heck of a good time. 

Overall: 8.5

Sonics: 8

Ear to the Ground Blog

"Randy Lewis Brown is one of my favorite "discoveries" of this year. His new album Red Crow quickly found a place among my favorites of the year. It is the song - and the voice and the music "

MusikAnsich (Germany)

A huge thanks to Wolfgang Giese at MusikAnsich for wonderful review of Red Crow.  

Translated from German by Google Translate

“Randy Lewis Brown is from Louisiana, and at the age of twelve the family moved to Houston, Texas. Well, musical influences may have been there in large numbers, and certainly one or the other will have rubbed off.

Red Crow is the musician's third album after the debut in 2007 and its successor from 2013. Yes, the music fits right in those areas where Brown grew up, breathing typical Texas sound, with spontaneous associations with musicians like Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker and similarly created singer / songwriters with the special personal touch. Presented in a pleasant and warm-hearted voice, which also reminds me of the unfortunately rather unknown Allan Frank, the music is very personal, very intimate and very accessible.

The songs deal with what touches and moves us every day - sad moments, loneliness, joy, fun, philosophy about life in general. And all this is portrayed by the protagonist with a great deal of sensitivity and emotional depth. Even Randy Lewis Brown says, "I love good stories, stories that make me think, that stick with me, and sometimes haunt me .....".

And that's exactly what transcends me as a listener in a beautiful way, this atmosphere touches me deeply and lets me participate in each expressed mood. "Trouble With Me" is a great song in this respect. That the songs are of high quality, as shown by various awards of the artist. (New Traditions Award 2007, T.I.M.E. Songwriting Competition 2009, Poor David's BW Stevenson Songwriter Contest 2014, F.T.R. Willows By Water 2017, South Florida Folk Festival 2018, and Finalist in Kerrville1995 and 2009)

It's the slow tracks that have the most emotional appeal, but even the faster and often happily infected songs have a bright appeal. Brown is supported by a sensitive and outstanding band of soloists who play a key role in shaping the sound, the most well-known being probably Cody Braun with the Fiddle, a musician some may know from the band Reckless Kelly.”

 

Wolfgang Giese

The Nashville Blues and Roots Alliance

RANDY LEWIS BROWN

RED CROW

BERKALIN RECORDS

ONE HORSE TOWN–TROUBLE WITH ME–NOT READY YET–OCTOBER AGAIN–SHE’S THE ONLY WOMAN–TRUST THE SUN–RED CROW–ANY OLD TRAIN–ABOVE TIMBERLINE–OTHER CAMPFIRES–GOOD OLD DAYS–BARLOW ROAD–GOODNIGHT GOOD LUCK

Randy Lewis Brown is an extraordinary storyteller.  He was born in Shreveport, spending his childhood in pre-Civil Rights Louisiana.  At age twelve, his family moved to Houston, and that began his musical journey.  His characters and the stories they have to share with listeners show the constant struggles of life with that slimmest of a thread of eternal hope.

His latest album, “Red Crow,” is thirteen originals, (four are co-writes), that opens with the somber story of a widower of thirteen years who lives thru the slow demise of a “One Horse Town,” where, now, “the graveyard’s all that grows.”  Another pair of long-time lovers, one 93, the other, 98, still share a vibrant relationship, and, unlike the birds who soar around them, are “Not Ready Yet” to fly away!  Lonesome fiddle from Cody Braun helps chronicle a man’s quest for inner peace, “far above cities,  chaos, and clouds,” way “up here Above Timberline!”  A similarly-themed song recalls the “Good Old Days,” when kids were polite and the world was the way it’s supposed to be–for Randy, it was 1963, for me, 1956.

Our favorite was built around a haunting cello and the metaphor of Moses never reaching the Promised Land,   It describes the hardships of pioneer settlers traveling from Iowa to Oregon in 1848, and is entitled “Barlow Road.”

Randy Lewis Brown builds a dazzling array of characters throughout “Red Crow,” who are often no different than any of us.  Flawed?–Hell, yes, but they soldier on, and Randy and the other talented musicians on this project bring them all into vivid focus.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Making A Scene

Randy Lewis Brown 

Red Crow

Berkalin

Randy Lewis Brown is another in the gifted group of Texas singer-songwriters full of poetic flair and engaging narratives. Red Crow is collection of 13 original songs, four of which are co-written. Brown sings in a clear, eminently listenable voice with great articulation and just the right amount of emotion. His songs are mostly about hard resignations with just enough glimmers of hope to keep it palatable. He appeals because he sounds as if he’s lived in most of the songs and brings the kind of intimacy as if he’s sitting next to you, drink in hand, sharing the tale with you.

Red Crow was produced by Merel Bregante, the CMA of Texas’s Producer of the Year in 2019, in Austin, TX. The musicians are Brown on acoustic guitar, banjo and all vocal leads, Michael Dorian (Sarah Pierce Band) on electric guitar, Riley Osborne on keys, Mark Epstein on bass, Dirje Childs on cello, and Cody Braun (Reckless Kelly) on fiddle, mandolin and harmonica. Sarah Pierce sings harmony on several.

Brown has a slew of outstanding songs and no fillers. The opener “One Horse Town” is a haunting tale of man who’s slept alone for 13 years , watching a dead horse decay out in the neighboring meadow with buzzards circling. (heck of way to begin an album, right?). Yet, the one horse that died serves as a metaphor for dying small town life. He uses the metaphor of a whippoorwill and a mockingbird, an elderly couple, and really all of us in “Not Ready Yet.” In the title track, his imagery had the red crow leaving calling cards and revealing an uncomfortable truth. Strong imagery colors “Other Campfires” while “Any Old Train” perfectly captures desperation. “Barlow Road” is another standout track, comparing Moses and early Biblical references to the hardships experienced by America’s pioneers.  “Good Old Days” seems to be a sarcastic nod to the America Trump champions.

Throughout the music is comfortable, supporting the song and never stealing focus from Brown’s poetic lyrics. Yet Brown never lets us get too comfortable, There’s an uneasiness in many of these songs,  certainly in “October Again” but even more so in the closing “Goodnight, Good Luck” with the daunting chorus ‘goodnight, good luck, goodbye,” especially with the inflection of his vocal on the last one.  It leaves such an emotional impact and a lasting provocative hint that calls for repeated listens to the other songs  for fear of  missing something the first time.

  • Jim Hynes

Midwest Record - Entertainment News

RANDY LEWIS BROWN/Red Crow: A first class storyteller with a first class crew in tow, Brown is a top shelf contemporary folkie/Americana cat with an eye and ear for life beyond flyover country. A heartland cat that'll take you places you never knew existed, if you like meaty songwriter you can really sink your teeth into, this is prime primo material that'll really get your rebuilt engine going. A winner throughout. 
(Berkalin Records)

HVY Journalists

Now Playing: Randy Lewis Brown’s ‘Red Crow’

By Will Phoenix 

Randy Lewis Brown is prepping for the release of a new full-length studio album.  It’s called Red Crow and it drops on September 27th.  But first, for those not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.

 

Randy Lewis Brown

Louisiana-born singer-songwriter and musician Randy Lewis Brown works out of Texas.  According to his official website as a boy Brown “was offered a $10 guitar and lessons for $1 a week by an older teen in church.”  He was hooked and “was a budding [singer-] songwriter” by the time he was 14.

His rockin’ resume also includes a pair of previous releases, 2007’s Dream Big and 2013’s But Wait, There’s More.  He has won such songwriting awards as the TIME Songwriting Competition (2009), the New Traditions Award (2007), the Poor David’s BW Stevenson Songwriter Contest (2014) and the South Florida Songwriting Contest (2018).  He has toured across the country and opened for such other artists as Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jim Lauderdale, and David Olney. 

 

Signature sound

While his music is generally labeled as Americana, his music often extends beyond that.  His signature sound is a blend of multiple musical genres including Americana, country, folk, and folk-rock.

 

Red Crow

Red Crow is an album that demonstrates Brown’s ability to take a less than perfect life and turn it into something positive and at points nigh beautiful.  It belays the wisdom of his years of experience and then some.

 

Track by track

On this album, Brown leads the way on acoustic guitar, banjo, and vocals.  He is backed by an assortment of other artists.  They include Merel Bregante (drums, percussion, and harmony vocals), Michael Dorian (electric guitar), Riley Osborne (Hammond B3),  Mark Epstein (bass), Dirje Childs (cello),  Cody Braun (fiddle, harmonica, mandolin), and Sarah Pierce (harmony vocals).

 

The 13-track disc opens on the first single, “One Horse Town,” which is a surprisingly relatable songstory co-written with Richard P. Thomas and contains this underlying memorable groove making it a good cut for a road trip too.

The second selection is the introspective “Trouble With Me". It’s slower, quieter and even a bit sad.  Perhaps that’s what makes it work.

Not Ready Yet”  is a shuffle groove and a musical metaphor concerning a pair of birds and an older couple.  It was co-composed with Randy Palmer and is the second single off the album.  “October Again”  has an effective melody that captures a painful memory’s darkness.

Co-written with Terry Klein, “She’s The Only Woman” includes a quick reference to Don McLean, a steel guitar-fueled lilt and a tinge of Lennon-McCartney to boot.  The next number is “Trust The Sun.”  The songwriting remains solid as does the artists’ performance.

The titular “Red Crow” follows.  Inspired by a painting by Jenny Joyce, this poetic piece presents the tuneful tale of a red crow that leaves crow calling cards and a specific revelation.  It’s ready-made for a film soundtrack.

Any Old Train”  is a song that tells a story within a story.  It presents a prerequisite tale in a unique way.  “Above Timberline” is both evocative and ponderous.  Written with Jim Gilmore it also has a homey, heartfelt feel to it.

The evocative “Other Campfires” has an indigenous feel to it.  (Don’t ask: How?  It just does.)  The fun, reflective "Good Old Days" focuses on the simplicity of another time.  It is highlighted by more biographical bits and great pop culture references.

Barlow Road” has a specific musical composition that draws you into a sad song about pioneers on the famous Oregon Trail.  The closing cut is "Goodnight Good Luck."Perfectly placed, this apt album endnote probably works well as a live show closer too.

Overall, the album is a quality collection of original material written or co-composed by Brown.  There is enough variety to hold the listener’s attention but not so much as to distract from the theme and flow of the work.  The songs have a familiar feel to them regardless of how unusual individual songstories might be.  So check out Randy Lewis Brown’s Red Crow and it just might take you back to the “Good Old Days.”

The Country Angel (Blog)

I seem to have gotten lost in this album so much so I realized just a few moments ago I'd not posted my review.  

 

As I read through the notes from Randy about RED CROW, giving me an insight to each of the tracks, I had to wonder… How could someone who’s been so disillusioned by various aspects of life over the course of his years make those moments so beautiful? Trust the Sun captures this perspective as only a talented songwriter such as Randy is capable of. The other thing I find magical about this album is that Randy Lewis Brown’s vocal abilities belie his age. If there is such a thing as an ‘old soul’ in a young man, than Randy is the reverse. This nuance lends a stronger meaning to I’m Not Ready Yet.

 

October Again is a haunting melody capturing the darkness of a painful memory. Close your eyes and watch the colored leaves become the death of summer like you’ve never seen them before.

 

One Horse Town is a picture-perfect example of small town life... whether we want to escape from, come back to, or never leave from the beginning, there's a familiarity most of us can relate to.

 

With the steel guitar as well as the lilt of the lyrics, She’s the Only Woman, co-written with Terry Klein, came out just as they’d hoped. If you like the older country with a bit of Beatles for seasoning this tune will have you seeing your wife in a fresh light and tapping your toes.

 

The title track, Red Crow, was inspired by a painting by Jenny Joyce… the same of which is now the album cover. Randy brings images from his mind to life. If you listen, you can hear the slight flutter of wings as the crow takes flight.

 

I love how Randy tells a story within a story such as he’s done in Any Old Train. Like a parallel universe, he takes you down two journeys at once.

 

As I stated in my interview yesterday, Above Timberline pulled at memories for memories. I’m planning a trip back to my home state of Colorado and look forward to smelling the lichen-covered rocks, pine and seeing the beauty of the Aspens. Whether you’ve ever been there or not, Randy has the capability of making you feel at home in the beauty of the Rockies.

 

With a hint of Native American tones, Other Campfires will stir the ashes of your soul.

 

The simplicity of Good Old Days mimics the time, regardless of what that time period is, most of us wish we could revisit.

 

Barlow Road is an outstanding example of how our past, while far from perfect is just that… a part of our heritage. This track tells a sad tale from the historic stretch of what was originally part of the Oregon Trail. Randy gives us the guts of history the way the stories should be told.

 

The continuity of this album is perfect in every way. While four of the tunes have co-writers (Randy Palmer, Terry Klein, Richard Paul Thomas, and Jim Gilmore), they are his stories. Others lending their talents to the album Merel Bregante, Michael Dorian, Sarah Pierce Band, Riley Osborne, Mark Epstein, Dirje Childs, and Cody Braun. I have to say if Randy Lewis Brown believes the Trouble With Me is that he thinks too much, I hope he keeps letting those wheels turn out more original tunes like these. The depth of not just the lyrics but the undercurrent of emotions attached to each one makes this one of the best albums to ever cross my desk. I'm tipping my hat….

Lone Star Time (Italian)

(Google Translation from Italian)

 

the third recorded work of a great From The Texan songwriting scene

 

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana but soon moved with his family to Houston, Texas, Randy Lewis Brown grew up with the folk and country songwriting in the heart, attending environments like the Kerrville Folk Festival, Tommy Alverson's Family Gathering and all the best stages the Lone Star State, Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida.  His is a dry and precious style that we could compare to artists like Ray Wylie Hubbard and Eric Taylor, with the right poetic weight and with a melodic taste of remarkable caliber, attentive to social issues and able to "probe" the human soul with great sensitivity.  "Red Crow" is his third album, after the debut titled "Dream Big" in 2006 and the sequel to seven years later, "But Wait, There’s More".  Randy is one who publishes his products with a lot of park and after six years here is his work number three, edited in the production by Merel Bregante, very good at sewing a sound with many nuances, purely acoustic, choosing the best way to bring out the  dowries of the protagonist.  In these songs are Michael Dorrien's guitars and piano, Dave Pearlman's steel guitar, Cody Braun's fiddle, mandolin and harmonica, Merel Bregante's drums and percussion, Sarah Pierce's vocal harmonies, the organ of Riley Osborne and little else, names that for those following Lone Star Time should be fairly familiar.  And it's still the songs that make the difference by putting Randy Lewis Brown in the company of the best names of the Texan singer-songwriter, starting with “One Horse Town”, a solid ballad that opens the record and immediately embellishes it with great style while country inflections become more  clear with the soft and pleasant "She's The Only Woman" composed four hands with the excellent Terry Klein and guided by Dave Pearlman's steel guitar.  "Above Timberline" is another wonderful song with a Texan flavor between folk and country, written with Jim Gilmore, son of the great Jimmie Dale, "Good Old Days" is autobiographical and recalls the old days when certain carefree and the desire to fight  for ideals of peace and social equity they were 'fashionable' and inspired by the music scene, "Any Old Train" is a delicious and deep electro-acoustic ballad, "Red Crow" chosen not by chance to represent the album is interior and poetic with a  splendid harmonica and a mature and brilliant interpretation.  These are just some of the most significant pieces, the ones that in my opinion characterize a work with many reasons to be appreciated.  A new name to consider if you love Texan sounds: Randy Lewis Brown.

Remo Ricaldone 

 

ROOTVILLE - Blues, Jazz and Roots Info (Netherlands)

Originally In Dutch - Translated by Google Translate

Singer-songwriter Randy Lewis Brown was born in Louisiana and spent his childhood in Shreveport pre-civil rights, immersed in the shaping strictures and music of the church. He is known for his poetic lyrics and discovered a new world when his family moved to Houston at the age of twelve. When he became an adult, he started to connect with and make music in a deeper sense. Randy Lewis Brown grew up in both Louisiana and Texas. The story is about hard resignation with occasional spotted sunlight of injured optimism. This "Red Crow" is Randy's third solo album and with that he makes his debut with "Berkalin Records". For this he also released a few albums with the Texas-based trio "Jealosy Motel" who were known for their mix of Folk, Americana and Swing. With his unique combination of the humor of Will Rogers and the unusual sensibilities of Roger Miller, Randy Lewis Brown promises listeners with his heavy lyrics full of sadness, loneliness, longing, fear, wonder, joy, humor, philosophy and maybe even a little bit of that subtle southern touch. This artist based in Northeast Texas leads you through his rich inner world to a magical destination, where the wide open spaces of the West run headlong into the mossy borders of brooding southern pine forests. Where once and for all the darkest mysteries are uncovered. On the album we find 13 songs with 9 compositions by him. He opens with "One Horse Town" and this is one of Richard P Thomas. Clear lyrics and a powerful voice are the hallmarks of this Randy Lewis Brown on this album that was recorded in Texas. On "Not Ready" he starts somewhat a cappella but evolves the song as a pleasant listening Americana song. Randy Lewis Brown puts his lyrical poetry on americana music. This "Red Crow" was produced by Merel Bregante at Cribworks Audio in Texas. Bregante was named CMA Of Texas's producer of the year in 2019 and produced all but one of the winning albums. "Red Crow" is Randy Lewis Brown on acoustic guitar, banjo, vocals, Merel Bregante on drums, percussion, harmony vocals, Michael Dorian on electric guitar, Riley Osborne on B3 organ, Mark Epstein on bass, Dirje Childs on cello, Cody Braun on violin, harmonica, mandolin, with Sarah Pierce also on harmony vocals. On the title track "Red Crow" the poetic nature of his lyrics is clearly in the spotlight. He concludes with this gem of an Americana album with the ill-fated "Goodnight Good Luck". An absolute must.