Bryan Master

Self-released, 2004

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Last year Bryan Master was Lost At Sea; this year he's Incommunicado. So right off you'd think the dude has some issues -- but the only one I can see is that nobody's woken up and signed him yet. And that is a plain shame.

If Lost At Sea marked Master as a talent to watch, Incommunicado only amplifies that impression. It may be only half an album, but it's chock full of strong songwriting and superb playing. Having been joined by a number of guests last time around, this time former drummer Master goes Lenny Kravitz on us and plays just about everything on these seven tracks.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If there's a downside to Master's tunes, it's that they may simply be too smart for radio. Despite the catchy melody line that anchors kickoff track "Karmacide," Justin Timberlake can only dream of writing something half this nuanced and intelligent… my favorite piece of this acid profile is the closing capper: "With all those you've burned / You never quite learned / That karma attracts / Only what one lacks."

Similarly witty and pointed is "Find The Words," or as I like to call it, "Fun With Similies." Stacking one on top of another, Master builds a portrait of missed connections filled with sharp observations like this one: "He was like a broken clock / Never had the time / Only right but twice a day / And that was not enough." It's as playful a slice of melancholy as I've ever come across.

Equally sassy and slightly heavier is "Closure," which matches a Kravitz-y, funked-up guitar line with the tale of a jilted obsessive who can't let go. More typical of Master, though, is the nifty little acoustic groove thing he carves on "Heaven Only Knows," complete with great rhymes, a catchy little do-do-do refrain and a loose, organic Jack Johnson vibe. (This is the one that sounds like a hit to me.)

I can't close this out without commenting on two of the more diverse directions Master explores here. On "And What For?" the generally gentle Master drops the f-bomb in service of a clever chorus, and makes it work. Seconds later, he closes out this disc with the sublime "Count To Ten," a gorgeous acoustic meditation about following your muse rather than conforming to expectations.

Bryan Master is a gifted singer-songwriter whom 98% of you have never heard of. He and others like him toil day after day in cities across the nation and the world, trying to turn art into something resembling a living. Whether you give them your dollars, or just your respect, give them something today. They deserve it, and terrific little d-i-y discs like Incommunicado are all the proof of that you'll ever need.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2004 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Self-released, and is used for informational purposes only.