Bryan Masters,
Thundar, the Boy Giant
(Digital Boy, 2002)

It happens to all of us. A tune gets trapped in the circuit between the ear and the brain, and plays endlessly until we're on the verge of committing a prosecutable crime just so the approaching police sirens will give our brains a different soundtrack to seize upon.

Before you go to such desperate lengths, try Bryan Masters' Thundar, the Boy Giant. From the first scratchy record sounds of "Amazing Grace," thoughts of any other music were knocked right out of my head. A love song of sorts, "Amazing Grace" carries a dose of self-deprecation and honest wonder that sets it above the usual trite sentiments. The optimistic melody and earthbound vocals of "Grace" lead almost logically to "You Again," a terribly romantic story about a love that doesn't quite fail to work.

Most of the album is devoted to love songs of a sort. But these are not simple tales of infatuation and despair. Avoiding simple lyrical schemes and one-note stories, Masters manages to capture the more intriguing, less well-defined moments of life. So the defiantly optimistic "Leap Of Faith" is free to admit the dangers of following your heart, while the breaking heart of "Goodbye Kiss" is already aware of the healing power in the bitterest breakup. Masters' tunes match the depth of his sentiments, soaring with joy while a beat grinds along, or staggering wounded through sharp notes of clarity. His folk style can be flavored with bluegrass and "Two Flattop Guitars" or steal a ballad's gentle force for "Thunderhead," while maintaining an definitive sound. With deceptively complex tunes and deftly braided lyrics, Thundar will wash all other tunes right out of your head, leaving your mind open for fresh sounds and new thoughts.

Thundar, the Boy Giant is a polite guest. Despite all his flash and substance, he packs up his act and leaves with solemn notes of the "Last Song." A full and satisfying experience on the first hearing, this album does not beg to be played again. Instead of forcing themselves in the listener's brain, the songs create an enticing memory. With honest music and poetic lyrics, Masters does not tax your attention, but makes you want to donate frequently.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 8 November 2003

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