Smoke on This
Surprisingly good solo album from the former Pantera bassist
I was expecting this David Allen Coe sort of rebellious troubadour album from former Pantera bassist Rex Brown. 'Smoke on This' is the artist's first solo record, one that showcases his talents as songwriter, guitarist, bassist, and singer. Brown credits Nashville guitarist and songwriter Lance Harvill as his "brotherly" collaborator on the album. The Texas native surrounds himself with a host of talent including drummer Johnny Kelly (ex-Type-O-Negative, Danzig), Berklee College of Music graduate Joe Shadid on rhythm guitar and producer Caleb Sherman (Little Big Town, Porter Block). Drums were tracked by current Accept skinsman Christopher Williams (Blackfoot) and you can hear Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist Peter Keys on select songs.
So, is 'Smoke on This' a southern-fried slab of electric rebellion?
Surprisingly no, it's nothing of the sort.
Rex Brown's debut is a really laid back, sort of trippy descent into soulful, softer textures. Tracks like "Buried Alive" and "Get Yourself Alright" utilize acoustic strings and some lighter percussion to ease into soul-searching lyrics about forgiveness and redemption. There is a high on "Grace", abstractly delivered through distorted vocals while "Crossing Lines" is simple but effective AC/DC blues. There is a slice of southern charm on "Fault Line" and "What Comes Around", the latter sprinkled with piano touches and some melodic guitar. The two heaviest numbers are opener "Lone Rider" and lead-off single "Train Song", both equally soaked with bluesy, driving riffs and a rowdy rock 'n roll feel.
Brown's vocals are very good considering he's never shown us that part of his skillset before. Think of a cool, convincing blend of Bon Jovi meets Ricky Warwick (Black Star Riders, The Almighty). It's an odd comparison but one that describes Brown's vocal tones. Lyrically it is all done with conviction, played to perfection by skilled performers and industry craftsmen.
'Smoke on This'...yeah I'll take a puff.