Apr. 7, 2017
Going well beyond the usual superior musical gifts and prowess he shares so graciously with us with each album, the very personable, well-grounded guitar guru Norman Brown (someone who’s one of guitar legend George Benson’s favorites – what higher honor can one receive??) opens another door with his latest release Let It Go, a door that allows us a glimpse into the innermost being of a man who is deeply reflective and philosophical when it comes to life and all it offers. This is one project that somewhat differs from the guitarist’s typical grooves in that one is riveted for reasons more profound than that. Yes, Brown remains one of the funkiest, smoothest, most adept Grammy-winning artists around, but this sober, reflective, deliberate side is as appealing as any of his music.
One of the atypical things you’ll notice about the CD is its jacket. There, you will find a short descriptive narrative of the meaning behind most of the track listings; so, you’ll find that you have a more interesting engagement with the album than just looking at cool pictures, reading credits, and grooving to the music.
The album opens with the mystique of “Lessons of the Spirit,” a short stroll that ends up leading the way to “It Keeps Coming Back,” a serene, smooth piece that is explained by Brown in the following manner: “If we don’t learn and live by the Laws of the Spirit (Truth), then the myriad of problems that we face in our lives will return. It’s not a choice.” That’s followed by the title track that speaks in a laid-back thoughtful way about listening to “the teacher within your spirit.” It cleverly goes hand-in-hand with his cover of the Five Stairsteps’ “Ooh Child” as he explains that “This is an all-time favorite of mine and sums up the thoughts that should dominate our minds, especially in the face of obstacles and setbacks. In knowing that things will get brighter, that knowing becomes a force that aids us in the letting go process.”
Joining Brown on this unique work of art are BWB bandmates Kirk Whalum and Rick Braun, as well as Sounds of Blackness, Chanté Moore, Marion Meadows, S.O.U.L, and TrayCar. Perfect choices for this kind of project.
The music itself is what we’ve come to know as the wonderful and melodic excellence of Brown, this time in a more pensive vein for more than a few tracks, Of course, the man can never deny himself as one who enjoys a good jam, also. Such is the case with the BWBish “Liberated,” “The North Star,” and “Living Out Your Destiny.”
Brown apparently spends a lot of time looking at the “Man in the Mirror,” another tune he graces with an innovative cover. It shows throughout this album and speaks volumes about why I’ve always thought there was something very special about this man. He clearly spells it out here. A++ effort! – Ronald Jackson