Paul Bromley,
Where I Come From
(self-produced, 1999)

There are a lot of guitars on this record. A lot. And Paul Bromley plays most of them himself, in addition to piano, harmonica, mandolin and percussion. He brings a few friends along to fill out the roster, and then he makes a record full of quirky, delightful little tunes. Fans of guitar-based folk music will really enjoy Where I Come From, the Edmonton singer-songwriter's debut CD. There is nothing over-produced or flashy about it -- he just picks up his guitar(s) and sings. It's such a refreshing way to hear recorded music -- raw and honest.

"Hand to Lend" is a plea for those less fortunate, made by one who wants to help. Bromley doesn't sound like a political activist, though; he's just a guy with a song to sing. "Best of Friends" is a song about missing someone, missing a presence in your life. But rather than dwelling on the missing, Bromley offers friendship in its place. Bromley's spiritual side shows itself in "Look Above," a carefree ode to seeing the good in any situation. And just when I thought I knew what to expect from Bromley, along came "Blue Train," a bass-heavy blues track.

There are a couple of strange songs on this record. "Worms" is about, well, worms, which is something I don't think I've ever encountered. Then there's "The Chop," which is actually, and I'm not kidding here, about a poor dog whose manhood is taken from him: "Whoever said that it's a dog's life, they don't even know, unless they've had their balls chopped off and their head stuck in a cone." It comes complete with howling doggies. Hey, at least it's original!

The impression left on the part of my brain that processes poetry and music is a favourable one. The songs on Where I Come From are positive, simple and unassuming. In some cases, they are almost shy. Intricate guitar playing almost occurs in the background, sneaking up on you when you least expect it. This is a very good record -- Paul Bromley is the next name to add to a growing list of young Canadian singer-songwriters who are making names for themselves in coffeehouses and at music festivals across the country.

[ by Rachel Jagt ]
Rambles: 9 February 2002