Sunday, September 03, 2006

Barbara Carr--Down Low Brother (2006)

Artist-Barbara Carr
Album-Down Low Brother
Release Date-May 16, 2006

Review-by Steve Leggett Barbara Carr has seen a career resurgence the past few years by delivering a series of midtempo albums specializing in a kind of retro-soul heavy on the steamy, sordid side of things. To her credit, the songs she sings about relationships going down the tubes seldom have her playing the role of the victim, and she projects a strong "don't mess with me" stance in most of them. She also gets pretty bawdy and explicit when it comes to the sexual details of these various crumbling scenarios, making her the contemporary queen of blue urban soul, and she's well aware that a little controversy is a good marketing tool. In the case of Down Low Brother, it is the title tune that will undoubtedly stir things up, as she holds forth on the dilemma of finding her man in bed with another man. Carr sings the song from the perspective of how this situation reflects on the woman in the equation, turning what is basically another song about a love triangle into something else again. This doesn't mean it's a great song, but it certainly is an interesting one. In the end, that's the problem here. The songs on Down Low Brother all too often get by on Carr's forceful persona rather than on any claim to sharp writing or execution, and when tracks work here, like the oddly titled "You're Gonna Mess Around and Get Bit By My Dog Trying to Get to My Cat" or the breezy, percolating "When You're Cheatin'," it is Carr's powerful directness that gives them momentum and a certain edginess. Too often, though, the material here (most of it written by producer John Ward with Raymond Moore) spins its tires loudly without actually going anywhere. Carr can carry a song a good long way simply on her vocal largesse and tough-as-nails persona, but that still doesn't make what she's singing a great song. In the end, Down Low Brother is an OK album, occasionally even a highly interesting one, but it unfortunately falls well short of being a great one.


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