Over the past few decades Brian Dean performed in a number of bands and has opened for popular artists such as Tammy Wynette and Steve Wariner. In 2008 he left California and moved to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands where he scuba dives and performs throughout the year (if that isn't living the sweet life I’m not sure what is). He recently released a full-length album called Life’s a Beach, which seems to be mimicking the life he is living. The songs have a country vibe but also have a carefree island thing going for it that I think only someone living in the Virgin Islands or Hawaii could implement into their songs. When listening to the album it’s too easy to imagine Dean playing these songs beachside for tourist as the sun sets.
The production is top-notch sounding as it should be as it was recorded, mixed and mastered at Direct Image Studio, Nashville TN, by Ken Royster. The songs’ production is radio ready but the songwriting isn’t too shabby either. While it’s clear the songs are a bit commercial sounding and intended for a broad audience there are enough quality moments to make even the most cynical of hipsters cave in.
The album opens with “Give It Your Best Shot.” This one has a distinct country vibe and doesn't waste any time as it kicks in with the full band before it simmers down to let us hear Dean’s comforting, almost fatherly voice. His voice is deep and calm but also commanding. In fact, his voice is what creates a distinction from being just another song on the radio to something that may make your take out your smartphone and figure that you are listening to. His lyrics are simple and unpretentious as he sings, “Give your best shot I know my girl is looking mighty hot. One of the highlights for me was “So You Think I’m Sexy” which has a distinct island vibe as it utilizes a number of additional percussive elements, upward strumming on the guitar and a wah pedal.
If you are looking for a band that sounds like a Pitchfork approved “indie rock” this is not it. This is a solid album of commercial country pop mix that sounds unapologetically refined.
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