Album of the Week: The Brook + The Bluff – First Place

Posted by Greg on Oct 28, 2019 in Music |

The Brook + The Bluff

If there’s one album that has absolutely floored us over the past week it is easily First Place, the debut album from Birmingham, AL’s indie-soul quartet The Brook and the Bluff.

The album, which dropped last Friday comes on the heels of the band’s debut EP which charted on Spotify’s US and Canada Viral 50 playlists. Much of the album centers on the ebbs and flows of a long distance relationship and to a childhood spent in Birmingham, AL. Though the band now calls Nashville home, the sense of place and identity rings throughout. Anchored by sweetly affecting vocal harmonies and some of the most pleasant melodies we’ve heard this year, First Place is one of those albums that lingers long after the final listen.

Below is a track-by-track summary:

1. First Place (1:25)
The key here is the gentle pedal steel, gorgeous soulful vocals, just wow. An airy song. Just vocals and a limp guitar. An introspective song about defeat and one that is equal parts timeless and immediate.

2. Shelby (3:42)
The lead single. Features more of a country strut. Love these vocals. Sort of woozy and lazy. A hazy, hot and humid song not unlike an Alabama summer. Intoxicating and effortless. Man do we love this chorus.

3. Everything Is Just a Mess (4:43)
The second single. A dreamy and languid, gorgeous song. Absolutely love this. Almost has a 70s Hall and Oates vibe.

4. Halfway Up (3:55)
A chill, mid-tempo vibe guides this song along. Probably the best song so far. Harmony vocals are just awesome, a stacked wall of sound. Fans of John Mayer will like this one a ton.

5. Off the Lawn (4:15)
Reminds me a lot of Josh Rouse’s 1972. Swirly and cylindrical. Romantic and enveloping. Intoxicating and infectious. Love the keys and celestial backdrop. Man these guitars are so playful and just frolic all over this track. Very much a sun-soaked album. Melancholy lyrics match the sunny guitars.

6. Pastels (4:16)
A woozy warble of a song. Really love the falsetto. The song is so dreamy. A great lullaby with a distinct nocturnal vibe. a sedate song.
To be fair, at this point the songs are sort of running together, but at the same time, the songs are so easy to fall in love with. The song sort of departs from the others at the two-minute mark. Vocals sort of take center stage and make a statement. Song sort of collapses on itself at the 2:30 mark and starts back from the beginning. Really good subtle trick and one that works quite well. This band is dancing circles around their contemporaries. Hard to believe this is the band’s first full-length album.

7. Hallways (3:00)
Opens with just acoustic guitar, most of a departure. Love the vocals, oh man. This song is sure to be a crowd-pleaser and a fan favorite, wow. This will make the girls swoon. Third single and easy to see why.

8. Lover’s Rock (4:49)
Back to that easy, breezy 70s vibe. Maybe a bit of yacht rock. A gorgeous valentine and a surefire Valentine’s Day staple. A future weddin song. Solid guitar work here. Really letting the lead guitar show off here. Bass is also pretty dang tight here as well.

9. I Could Never Draw (3:05)
Sounds like Sam Smith or Otis Redding here. Vocals that absolutely demand a wider audience. Just vocals and a limp guitar. The most stripped down song and arguably the most effective. The voice and the guitar are like a dart to the system. This is a band that makes you pay attention almost immediately. Easily the album’s most honest and vulnerable lyrics.

10. Father McKenzie (3:58)
On the heels of one of the most personal songs, comes another. Direct, honest and vulnerable, this song floors us from the very first note. A song about a failed romance that feels like a sucker punch to the stomach.

For Fans Of: Local Natives, John Mayer, Devon Gilfillian, Beach House, Wild Sweet Orange

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