Saturday, January 24, 2009

January 24: Junior Brown, "Semi-Crazy"

Artist: Junior Brown
Album: Semi-Crazy
Year: 1996
Label: Curb

Junior Brown was a music teacher in Oklahoma for decades, playing small shows solo and with friends. Then, he decided that he was tired of having to switch between his standard 6-string and steel pedal he decided to combine them into one instrument. Brown plays a custom created/built guitar that he calls, appropriately enough, the "guit-steel." One neck is a standard guitar, while the other is a pedal steel guitar. The configuration allows him to rapidly switch between the two and gives his music a distinctive tone and feel.

Semi-Crazy is, much like Junior Brown's overall sound, a little bit country, and a little bit rock and roll. Brown's voice is as country as they get, and his guitar has that "twang" that defines the genre. While some songs ("I Want To Hear It From You") are "country" in every aspect, a majority of Junior Brown's lyrics are quirky and original. Taking on roles as a husband tired of his wife out partying and drinking all night, a prisoner, or even a surfer, the record is eclectic to say the least.

Brown proves that he more than just a guitar strummer as he shows off his sensational six string skills on "I Hung It Up" and even gets Ventures-esque (to create a word), on his aptly titled, "Surf Medley." Whether he is dueting (with Red Simpson) on "Semi Crazy," or using a mop as a mic on "Joe The Singing Janitor," Semi-Crazy is a joy to experience from start to finish.

Everything about Junior Brown is refreshingly unique. His voice, guit-steel, lyrics, and simply how he fuses genres together make him a true gem of the music world. Whether you're a seasoned country-western music fan, or if you're one of the many people who run for the hills as soon as you hear the term "country," do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy of can thank me later.

Standout tracks: "Gotta Get Up Every Morning," "I Hung It Up," and "Joe The Singing Janitor."

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