From Philadelphia comes a great singer and songwriter who comes very close to the great Donny Hathaway. The opening “Bleed Me Dry” from Aaron Parnell Brown‘s new album “The Tin Man” reminds me of early 70s Donny records, complete with cute, gospelly background vocals by Shayna Steele and a bluesy sax solo by Andy Snitzer.
The album was produced by Matt Pierson and recorded in New York. Aaron has won the Soul Artist of the Year Award in his hometown last year and has won several indie music awards as well. So why the tin man? “The Tin Man reflects the changes in my life over the last several years. As in the Wizard of Oz, the Tin Man found that he always had a heart, but it was just rusty…through the success of my last album, I’ve found where I need to be”, is what he says on his homepage.
There is a lot of Philly Soul here to be found, but tracks like “I Believe In You” also move more into a singer/songwriter mode and “Leave The Light On” reminds me of the mood and atmosphere of the very first Norah Jones album. It is a subtle and moving love song, enhanced by Aaron’s smooth and sensual vocals. A little more grit and edges can be found on the bluesy/rocky “Can’t Stop”. The most convincing and winning tracks are those which stick more to the Soul roots like the sublime “Just Leave” which is a heavenly soulful track that flows so easily and breezy.
Aaron covers Elton John‘s “We All Fall In Love Sometimes” and even though it fits the overall texture of this album, left me relatively cold. Things stay in ballad mode with the 60s sounding “Changes” which features a jazzy guitar solo by the great Lage Lund who changes the tempo of the track to some airy and open spheres. There is another nice ballad (“Everlasting Light”) and a midtempo groover (“Somewhere Around”) with more of that Lage Lund guitar and there are two remixes: the Soul Talk guys take care of the album’s highlight “Just Leave” with great keys work by Oli Rockberger and “Somewhere Around”, taking this Donny Hathaway-inspired track with Aaron’s sympathetic vocals and the overall positive vibe into 2015 and beyond.