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.
A low down and in depth interview with Gary Stanford from Lonewolf Productions
For decades Isaiah has been a top Aussie production guy and studio owner who's worked with Julio Iglesias and his orchestra, the Goo Goo Dolls and rehearsed American Idol's Randy Jackson and his band for their Australian touring. Not only has Isaiah been behind the board for globally upper echelon bands, he's been a go-to sideman for bands touring down under like the time he hit the road in Sydney aiding Keanu Reeves band Dog Star.
All the while he was working with synthetic and packaged music, Isaiah always knew where his heart lay. The same place it was when he first heard his father strum the Ukulele, blow harmonica and unleash the lap steel.
Isaiah was the 2010 Sydney Blues Society Performer of the Year and some of you may have caught him at last year's IBC. Probably the best dressed cat in Memphis and good enough musically to be one of the very few to be reviewed
in the /Memphis Daily News/.
ISAIAH B. BRUNT/EP: Here's a cat with a wild life story and a wild resume and after all this time, he's finally come out with his first recording under his own name and it's wild stuff. Sounding like an earnest Boston kid in the 60s trying to sound like a Texas bluesman, Brunt slings a mighty slide guitar and recalls something Dick Waterman or Sam Charters would have produced for Vanguard back in the day. Sounding very much like something that could have spun off Koerner Ray and Glover, if that's your sound this is up your alley. Whether you can dig the sound and vibe or not, this is one killer set.
In today's Blues Connection We have not one but two fantastic features!!!
Firstly live from Australia is the brilliant Isaiah B Brunt. We'll be not only talking to this true genius of the Blues but also playing some incredible tracks by the man.
This guys got some cool things going on with his music, kind of reminds me of a early early John Mayall!
Isaiah B. Brunt came all the way from Sydney, Australia – the hard way.
“I went from Sydney, to L.A. to Atlanta, then to Nashville and took a bus to Memphis,” said the very dedicated Brunt of his 27-hour pilgrimage. “I would not recommend that to anybody.”
Brunt uses blues at home as part of an outreach program in neighborhoods where poverty and drugs present challenges for kids from the aboriginal cultures.
“You cannot just go into those communities,” Brunt said. “You have to be invited. Blues seems to bring happiness and hope to these places.”