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CD Review: Mark Brown "Skin & Bones" 

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Mark Brown Skin & Bones

(2015, Independent)

On Skin& Bones, his second album in 10 years, Rosendale treasure Mark Brown offers up acoustic-based Americana tunes that sound like they’ve always existed on the underside of your skin; although you’ve never actually heard these 14 gems, you’ll also somehow recall this campfire singalong, that tear-stained lament, this lustful chant, that celebratory/cautionary drinking song. Everything resonates in deep places you may have forgotten existed. You’ll feel you’ve known Mark Brown for years, maybe decades; he’s your confidante, the guy who not only recognizes your secret heart but also provides the perfect accompaniment to its beating.

Brown’s distinguished team of co-conspirators includes Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist Dean Jones, who, along with ace guitarist Ken McGloin, also set up the microphones, lit the candles, and turned the knobs to make it all gel. Jones’s sonic touches—keyboards, ukulele, trombone, vocals, and various “sound making devices”—create framework for country-fried morsels like “Hatchet Man,” Cried in Your Bed,” and downhome lament “Pony.” Mike & Ruthy’s Mike Merenda provides combustible banjo on “See You Next Time,” and angel-voiced Eli McNamara leavens “Creosote” and “Trouble” with mischievous sweetness, a perfect foil to Brown’s gravelly croon. John Parker’s gut-strung upright bass and Dean Sharp’s pulsing, rollicking trap set provide whatever foundation the tunes need: slippery, rock-solid, funky, or gracefully falling-down-the-stairs. You can tell everyone is having a good time, and even on the weepers, it’s a catchy kind of joy. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without these brand-new longtime good friends. Unclebuckle.com.

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