Robert Bruey

Independent release, 2014

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Singer-songwriters succeed or fail largely on the basis of two elements—the artistry of their songs and the passion of their performances. Long Island singer-songwriter Robert Bruey travels a path worn smooth by the footsteps of troubadours like Gordon Lightfoot and tunesmiths like James Taylor, delivering songs full of craft and grace that could still fall short if not for Bruey’s genuine, committed performances.

Bruey’s third album Carousel features a set of 11 original tunes buffed to a warm sheen by the very complementary production of two-time Grammy winner Ben Wisch (Marc Cohn, David Wilcox, Kathy Mattea), whose clean, organic sound accentuates the gentle intensity of these songs.

“Comin’ Round” opens the album with a brooding but ultimately optimistic meditation on the vicissitudes of life. “Not all the prayers you send up are answered in your fashion,” observes Bruey over a soft, steady backbeat as Jon Preddice’s cello and wife Dana Bruey’s backing vocals frame out the song beautifully. The mostly spare arrangements on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Carousel build around Bruey’s precisely plucked fingerstyle acoustic guitar and the understated rhythm section of Chris Marshak (percussion) and Malcom Gold (bass), decorating the edges with the colors added by Jack Licitra on keys and fellow Long Island singer-songwriter Jean-Paul Vest (Last Charge of the Light Horse, Blue Sandcastle) on electric guitar.

Haunting sophomore cut “Fracture Of A Sign” leads into the upbeat road song “Open Road,” an incisive look at the need for quiet spaces in your life, and the way the road has of delivering them just when you need them most. One of the album’s strong points is that the songs really suit Bruey; he’s written to his own voice, which is often clear but picks up an appealing grit whenever he pushes it.

“Go” features Bruey in a warm counterpoint dialogue with harmony vocalist Dana about wanderlust, leaving and returning. Next up, “River Of Stars” is a highlight, with Bruey’s heartfelt vocal at the center of a song of absolution in which Vest’s rippling, silky electric guitar plays the part of the water itself. The surge on the chorus lends this cut an appropriately tidal feel.

The initially acoustic “A Piece Of You” later features gorgeous interplay between Bruey and Vest, whose playing here has a hint of a smoky, Mark Knopfler feel to it. “Everything,” “Nightingale” and “Whirlwind” again feature cello and Dana Bruey’s backing vocals dancing around and supporting the core guitar melody, with the latter two cuts adding piano. “Chaos never wins” sings Bruey in “Anything But Red,” a tune that dances up to the edge of overusing the metaphor of colors for emotions.

Closer “All This Is Love” turns up the rhythm section as Bruey and Vest double the sparkling melody on acoustic and electric, with subtle, delicate electric solos from Vest at mid-song and on the fade. “Love has come to save me,” sings Bruey on this stately, gorgeous love song.

Carousel is full of genuine emotion and insight, a superb showcase for Robert Bruey’s craft and passion. Fans of the singer-songwriter genre will find plenty to enjoy and admire here.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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