A deliberately careful songwriter with an at times Dylanesque flair for unlikely rhymes (he matches "spokes" with "hoax," for instance, and mostly gets away with it), a certain Nick Drake-like fragility (due in large part to his voice, which is pitched high and sounds at times eerily like Billie Holiday), and a subtle African pop feel (he has Femi Kuti singing backing vocals on one of the songs here), Brett Dennen is certainly singular, and at his best, he catches a breezy, mellow groove that allows his thoughtful songs to truly shine. If there's a downside, it's that they all shine in almost exactly the same way, and over the course of an album, can start to feel like one big mellow song sung over and over again without a whole lot of variation. But when these songs work, they really work, and pieces like "Heaven," even though Dennen goes on about things like "the cloth of conviction," are strikingly effective. Other standouts on Hope for the Hopeless, his third album, include the Kuti track, "Make You Crazy" (which features Dennen's most perfectly soulful and spirited vocal yet), the easily likeable "World Keeps Turning," the impressive "Ain't Gonna Lose You" (where the spokes/hoax rhyme dwells), and the innocently positive and hopeful "Follow Your Heart," even though it sounds maybe too much like a second rewrite of Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" at times. Nothing here is less than pleasant, but the lyrics do get a little on the overwrought and ornate side in songs like "So Far from Me," where crows ravage a field of wheat while scarecrows know their own defeat etc., and if Dylan can get away with stuff like that because he's, well, Dylan, Dennen makes it all sound just a little too delicate and labored. Still, Hope for the Hopeless works more than it doesn't, and when it really clicks here, which is often enough, Dennen shows himself to be a unique voice and talent.
|Label:||Dualtone Music Group|
Performance CreditsBrett Dennen Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Mark Goldenberg Guitar
Femi Kuti Background Vocals
John Alagia Guitar,Piano,Background Vocals
Sean Hurley Bass
Tom Freund Background Vocals
Joey Waronker Percussion,Drums
Zac Rae Keyboards,Ukulele
Missy Higgins Background Vocals
Technical CreditsBrian Scheuble Engineer
John Alagia Producer,Audio Production
Wayne Brezinka Art Direction,Illustrations
Brett Dennen Composer
Brian Conrad Engineer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
I saw this on sale and listened to it on the headphones provided in the store. I was instantly attracted to the sound of Brett Dennon. The music is soulful and you can tell he is singing from the heart. This is not a mainstream cd, however I am very glad that I added this to my collection and will look for more of his work in the future. This cd is great for a quiet dinner at home or to pop in during a relaxing bubble bath after a long day at work. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys jazz music and the like.
This near perfect CD is a essential buy for all Brett Dennen fans, and if you are not a fan you will be after listening to it. The CD starts with a bang and doesn't let up. Make You Crazy and Heaven are two socially inspiring songs that will tug at your heart and mind. The rest of the album is as appealing as anything you've ever heard. His phrasing, his instrumentation, his voice, the lyrics...it is truly a complete package. In an interview he stated that when he was 7 Graceland came out and he was very influenced by it. He obviously has good taste. Brett Dennen is such a pure, open soul and that comes through on all the songs. This is truly a timeless CD that you will be listening to 15 years from now and it will sound as fresh as it does today. Buy Hope for the Hopeless you will not be disappointed.