MUSIC in REVIEW • Brian Carson

Delivers a Broad Range of Gifts on 'BIg Dog Days'

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, Artist Feature,   From Issue 863   By: Matt deHeus

14th June, 2018     0

For people that have always been there for others, there finally comes a point where you decide to do something for yourself.  For veteran rock singer and front man Brian Carson, 2018 is that time.   With the release of Big Dog Days, Carson takes a break from the hard rock power he has long displayed in bands such as Raggedy Ann, Peacemaker and Sacred Silver and takes an “acoustic-driven” turn. 

The ten self-penned tunes visit some of the reflective territory you get to explore once you decide to own every gray hair that flecks your beard and tell people about the process of earning them. 

Far from a maudlin affair, and true to form, Carson brings his full range of gifts to the album.  Unlike many of the Americana tinged offerings that make up so much of the “Mid-Michigan sound,” he channels the big ballads of the hard rock era.  If rock stars displayed such emotions, singers like Gary Cherone (Extreme), Jeff Keith (Tesla) and Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) would be proud.

Album opener “Bet It All” gives an indication of things to come, as Carson lays out the basic landscape of the recording – songs that ease into their opening, growing to crescendos featuring his lead vocal range and a stealth killer electric guitar part, still sitting in support of this “acoustic affair.”

“Everything but Die” is so reminiscent of the “cigarette lighter moments” at concerts in the 1990’s, when the crowd would salute the singer’s sentiments with an ocean of flickering flames.  On this track, producer / engineer Andy Reed layers in a number of vocal, instrumental and rhythmic textures that makes the song swell as it reaches its heartfelt pinnacle.

On a set of songs this consistent and strong, it is hard to call something a “high point,” but it is easy to see why Carson decided to use “Big Dog Days” as the title track.  For any listener who might be coming to grips with the idea that one era of their life has passed and it’s time to take a quick accounting of what comes next, this song is the real deal.

The haunting tremolo guitar that opens “Angeline” gives strong indication of the reflections to come, what was, what could have been, what was lost.  Universal themes, spot on vocal.  Good stuff.

“Broken” is just a cool song.  The slow climbing main chord progression and the crunch in the choruses doing justice the idea of the writer taking stock when it is clear a rebuild in going to be required.  And Carson’s voice never cracks in the process.

“Hold On” opens with a solemn piano intro which leads to a track where Carson tries on some of his “inner Meatloaf,” with another gigantic vocal part, soaring guitars and a cry out that love really is worth the wait.

“And So It Goes” has an interesting melody line, a heartfelt vocal and familiar touchstones throughout the arrangement.  There is some Robert Plant and Zeppelin influences, though worn more as an undergarment than a costume, if you will.

The most unique track one the record might be “Luna Segue.”  The arrangement is gorgeous, almost hymn-like.  This is NOT rock and roll.  And it is beautiful.

The song “Lucky To Be Me” is a tongue-in-cheek ode to how awesome it is to be a particular person, at a particular time, with a particular topic in mind.  If there ever was a song that sounded like what it feels like to walk down the street right after you realize you are killing it, this is it.

The Spanish-style guitar part the under pins “Cold Sun” is an excellent introduction to the album’s closer. 

With all due to respect to one of rock’s great singers, if someone told you this was an out take from a Chris Cornell solo album, you might believe theme.  Ten songs in, “Big Dog Days” has confirmed something we all know.  Brian Carson can flat out sing.

It is perfect timing for Carson to release this album now, as it is driving season.  I would highly recommend that you add this to your “buy” list when it comes to figuring out your summer soundtrack.  Because, as you know, Brian Carson rocks.

Listen to Brian Carson on Spotify

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