About a year and a half ago, I reviewed a wonderful little EP by Isaiah B Brunt. Brunt, an Australian, worked in the music industry for years as an audio engineer, playing music on the side until 2006, when he decided to focus on the blues. Though he’s thousands of miles away, he has as firm a grasp on tradtional American pre-war blues as if he’d lived in the Mississippi Delta all his life. That was apparent from the first note of his EP release.
For Brunt’s release, Nursery Rhyme Blues, he updates his sound just a bit. The traditional roots are still present, but on this new recording, Brunt not only plays acoustic and slide guitar, but also ukelele on several tracks, piano, electric bass, harmonica, synths, and percussion. He also incorporates various musicians playing vibraphone, accordion, flute, cello, and sousaphone on assorted tracks. The result is an eclectic mix of blues styles that’s sometimes breezy, sometimes haunting, sometimes lovely, and always compelling.
I really like the opener, “Just a Beautiful Thing,” a carefree Delta blues tune, and “Beale Street Memphis” is a fun track, with Brunt playing ukelele while accompanied by Rod Herbert’s sousaphone. The title track has a haunting quality, a different twist on the subject matter , with cello (courtesy of Nick Comino) and ghostly backing vocals. That’s just the first three tracks. The entire album has the same qualities. “Marilyn Monroe” is a wistful homage to the beautiful movie star and with Brunt playing harmonica and ukelele, and includes flute from Dahlia Goldfried-Brunt. “Before You Lay Me Down” is another haunting track, with cello again.
Tracks like “Full Moon Breaking” “Time Will Come,” “Humming Blues,” and “Vinegar Hill” feature Brunt playing unaccompanied for the most part and remind listeners of the gentle vibe of Brunt’s EP. “That Place In The Road” is interesting, with Brunt doubling on ukelele and harmonica, and the reflective closer, “Over Time,” has a gospel feel, with the soothing background vocals from Karana Nepe and Paula Punch.
I really like Isaish B Brunt’s approach to the blues. He holds close to the traditional sounds and themes of the blues, but he also mixes in enough modern touches to keep things fresh. The more I listen, the more layers I uncover within each song. Acoustic blues fans will want to hear this, but there’s something for every blues fan to enjoy with Nursery Rhyme Blues.
Friday Blues Fix Blog