Russ Glenn "A Brand New Earth," 2007 Connecticut-based Russ Glenn builds pleasing Jack Johnson-style songs around a sturdy, rhythmic acoustic and electric guitar style on this album. The release sports a live-band, "been doing it in the clubs" feel built around guitar, bass, drums and a bit of funky sax ("Curbside"). The uptempo opener, "Stick" allows a bit of crunch into the mix on a tune that would not be out of place in the hands of Dave Matthews. Glenn possesses a voice not unlike that of Dan Wilson, of Semisonic fame. That is, it is easy to listen to and is well-suited to delivering sturdy pop melodies. The outing features a duo of "Jane" covers: "Jane Says" and "Sweet Jane." "Jane Says" sounds a little naked minus the falsetto hook of Perry Ferrell's voice. "Sweet Jane" in Glenn's hands actually reinforces the lyrical content of the Lou Reed gem, and is ultimately the more successful of the two covers. Glenn writes the rest of the material on the album, achieving notable success on "Stick," "(Don't Say) Goodnight," and the tempo- and style-morphing "Goodbye." © Steve Klingaman
Russ Glenn: Press
A Brand New Earth
I was thinking that maybe it was just my mood last Friday – I was excited because it was the day before a vacation, and I was head-bopping all day as I gave this disc repeated listens. But a few more listens later, I’m convinced – Russ Glenn’s A Brand New Earth is a treat on any day.
Glenn plays all the guitar on the album, and his earthy vocals sound like a smoother, more in-tune Michael Stipe. The opener “Stick” catchily layers crunchy electric over driving acoustic. It also has a cool, quirky chord progression and a hooky refrain worthy of the title. “Blind” begins as a yearning acoustic guitar-and-bass number before it bursts into a nice midtempo lope.
On “Goodbye” Glenn stretches his vocal range a bit higher, but he’s always in control. The heavy backbeat of the verses is juxtaposed with the straight-ahead power pop of the chorus.
And those first three cuts are excellent, but the brilliant “Curbside” is in another stratosphere. Seth Kibel’s squawking sax gives this a wildly jazzy vibe, and then Glenn turns on the effects-drenched guitar. All this over Scott Harlan’s bubbling bass and yet another rock-solid performance by drummer Andy Hamburger.
Glenn then offers a percussion-laced cover of one of my old favorites, Jane’s Addiction’s “Jane Says” (in which he quotes Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It"). And later he does a languid take on Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane” that is sweetened by Harlan’s piano.
Glenn’s bio states that he is the father of young children, and another deep-groove standout, “Your Birthday” shows that proud dads can rock. The song is built around hypnotically simple riffs that a jam-band guy like me just don’t want to end. Next, “Don’t Say Goodnight” has a wistful calypso/reggae feel to it and is a natural follow-up in both music and theme to the buoyant “Birthday.”
“Path to the Gallows” is another good one, a straight-ahead folk rocker that tells a bittersweet, evocative tale. And the closing “This Land” is a prettily strummed environmental ode, just guitar and plaintive vocal.
One change that might have made this disc more cohesive would have been to re-order the tracks so the latter half wasn’t so folk-heavy. But that’s a minor detail. Russ Glenn delivers succinct, memorable messages in his writing, and the musicianship breathes crisp, organic life into his creations.
If my math is right, this is Glenn’s fifth recording. Glenn started out with “Starshell” and “Evergold”, took the next step up for 2003’s “Unless”, and continued to refine and innovate on 2006’s “Little Bird”. In much the same way, Glenn has continued to evolve his unique brand of funk soul, and rock. The first track on “A Brand New Earth” is “Stick”, and it operates perfectly as a hold-over from the previous Glenn albums. However, it provides individuals with just enough in the way of new material to allow for a gradual shift in Glenn’s sound over the course of the following 11 tracks. Hints of John Maher, Jack Johnson and Dave Matthews all comes forth on this introductory track.
The production values present on “A Brand New Earth” are stellar, at the degree that individuals should not be surprised if Glenn gets some airplay on mainstream radio in the next few months. Where the instrumentation on “Stick” are strong in their own right, it is really the vocal harmonies that Glenn achieves that shine brightest on this track. A dollop of emotional gravitas is present during “Blind”. This track links together the aforementioned Dave Matthews influence with “A Boy Named Goo”-era Goo Goo Dolls. The twinkling approach of the instrumentation during the track highlights Glenn’s vocals in all the right way, making another single-worthy track out of “Blind”. The third track on “A Brand New Earth” is “Curbside”, and the track is notable with the inclusion of jazz and funk into the sound achieved during “Stick” and “Blind”. The insertion of new styles and influences into “A Brand New Earth” is exactly what is needed to keep individuals interested in Glenn’s output.
The follow-up track to “Curbside” keeps individuals interested. This track, “Jane Says”, is a cover of the Jane’s Addiction classic, and showcases the ability of Glenn to come forth with a track that closely conforms to the style of the original but still brings enough in the way of Glenn’s soul to the track to succeed. Keep listening, for “Goodbye” may just be the pinnacle of the tracks on “A Brand New Earth”. This track shifts through styles and sounds enough to keep individuals interested, while allowing Glenn to take on some of the sound of the Barenaked Ladies. A fun, unique album that is still familiar enough for fans of all stripes to appreciate.
Top Tracks: Goodbye, Insecurity
Memories are a funny thing, aren't they? They can come flooding back in an instant, transporting you back in time to remind you of things long forgotten. So when my old high school buddy and current Virginia resident Russ Glenn emailed me I was plesantly surprised to find out that his rudimentary guitar skills I remembered from 15 years ago had blossomed into a truly formidable talent. Was this modern day troubador really the same person who once schooled me on the finer points of the Dead Kennedy's and Oingo Boingo? Singing a different tune these days, Glenn now puts pen to paper to write melodic, soothing odes that crawl inside the reccesses of your subconcious and root there for days at a time. Imagine a less bragadocious Dave Matthews or a less hyperactive Jason Mraz and you're halfway to grasping Russ's obvious gift.
I have listened to this CD (alot) and seen Russ live - both are amazing! His acoustic stylings, Tracy Chapman like vocals, and some REAL lyrics mix to create a sound that you can't help but love. My favorite song, by far, is Blind. Mellow, catchy and upbeat all at once.
What a wonderful CD! The music is a blend of John Mayer and James Taylor with powerful, heartfelt lyrics. Each song is wonderful. This is a CD to play over and over.
Sorry the bad english! First I wanna thanks him for making a song about Brazil, a pretty one... And all him songs are very good and relaxing. I really apreciate that! Success for you!
I really enjoy listening to this cd. I bought it because the guy on the cover was really cute, but I was surprised how excellent the CD actually was. I mean, I absolutely love the song Flagstaff -- it's haunting and beautiful.
I listened to the CD and it was absolutely amazing. It has changed my whole view on folk rock. Blind is by far one of the best songs on the CD. I sing it everyday and I can't stop loving it.
Click the link below to read the interview...
Singer/songwriter Russ Glenn strips it down and keeps it simple. A nice
strumming guitar chord rings clear with his wavering vocals that transform classic
light folk pop into an amazing amalgam of fantastic cuts and righteous songwriting.
I like an artist who isn’t afraid to “keep it simple stupid” and not get so wrapped
up in adding a billion different parts and instruments that the song feels forced
rather than a natural thing. Good stuff for folks who just want to hear a damn
Russ Glenn – “Unless” – Russ Glenn’s debut CD achieves a consistently mellow-yet-intense, acoustic-pop vibe. Glenn's Jack Johnson-esque voice is flexible and unforced, even bouncy in the faster songs... His voice and guitar are always foremost in the mix, so listeners who prefer a solo artist over ensemble interplay should be pleased. Most tracks favor a simple structure of repetitive guitar strums, so neither excessive vocal harmonies nor extraneous rhythms detract focus from the vocals. Throughout the album, song tempos are a fairly consistent medium-slow to medium-fast. Neither Glenn’s voice nor his songs sound overly polished, which can be refreshing in this increasingly sanitized world. If you like CDs that feel like you’re hanging out in a bar with friends while a band plays, check this out.
CHT Pick: “The Bridge is Up”
Russ Glenn's simplistic artistry cuts through the over-dubbed,electronically layered world of pop music. His rich insights into life on songs like Flagstaff and Truth & Consequences make his messages live in the universal flow of human experience.
Russ' ability to 'master' the moment and capture the live feeling in one cut in a recording studio usually reserved for endless hours in takes, re-takes, and massive engineering edits make it a perfect fit for those who appreciate what can and does happen at an intimate live performance by an approachable, personable artist.