The antonymic Happy Sadness is the moniker that Yorkshire based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jason Brown records under. The sixteen songs on Brown’s latest lengthy release The Long Play LP were chosen from the over one hundred which he wrote and recorded in his bedroom over a period of two years.
It is an impressive feat to have written so many songs in such a short span of time. However as the saying goes, “Less is more.” I don’t necessarily agree with this saying and generally find myself somewhere around the middle ground. However I will attest to the fact that every artist, no matter what their medium, struggles to get just the proper amount of words on a page, paint on a canvas, or in this case, songs on a record.
And it is only when the artist has become a master of his craft that he is able to humbly see that he must delete words, paint over a canvas or set songs aside for another record. And it is this last idea that concerns the matter at hand with The Long Play LP.
There are gems on The Long Play LP like the psychedelic “Papaver” strung together with ethereal strings, keys, backwards guitars and Brown’s stark baritone vocals. At first I was waiting for the song to kick in and do something, and frankly the first time around I was disappointed that it didn’t. After repeated listens I began to understand that it didn’t need to kick in, and I feel in retrospect that if it did I wouldn’t like it. “We Fall as we Rise,” “The Night Has Woken” and the lustrous acoustic closer “The Window Pane” are all three closely styled odes to the Beta Band. So closely in fact that if I didn’t know any better I would have thought they were covers.
The low fi feel works for many of the tracks on The Long Play LP, yet on others such as “Colour Blind” and eerie instrumental “Looking Back to Sundays” ends up sounding like caricatures of early ‘80s experimental noise rock bands.
Being a prolific songwriter is not something that Jason Brown suffers from. The excellent musicianship and arrangements on the album are very good, and this can only be a reward of spending so much time honing his craft. The problem with The Long Play LP is that it sometimes sounds like a schizophrenic compilation of an artist with many influences but little idea of his own input. This is a burden that all young artists struggle with, though over time the best shed their influences and only then do they themselves become influential. Brown is certainly one to keep an eye on
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