At The Starting Line

Brian Larney

Nunya Records, 2013

http://www.brianlarney.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/29/2013

In a time when synthetic music and people with marginal talent at best are household names, it's nice to know someone like Brian Larney exists. Though he'll probably never be on the radio or the cover of glossy magazines, the New England songwriter is a dedicated musician with a long list of genres explored from pop to hardcore and many places in between. Putting a soulful and indie rock spin on warm Americana feelings, Larney's my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 At The Starting Gate is chocked full of memorable harmonies and intelligent subject matter, providing not only a graceful listen but something to keep your mind occupied as well.

Even though he doesn't stray too far from this folky, Americana template, Larney adds diverse bits and pieces in each track that keep the listener hanging on every note. “Solace” brings in jangly guitars, sounding like the musical equivalent of a lazy day in a hammock. “You Me And Allison” is a more pop rock oriented first song, but still has some grit beneath the glossy feel. “Closed Door” brings out Southern rock feelings while “Whistling Past The Graveyard” brings jazz ideas to the table. "Dogma (On A Leash)" go the opposite direction and walks a blues path, and on "The Plaintiff” Larney goes back to his roots with a louder alt-rock offering. The album ends, fittingly, with “Never Argue With The Devil,” where just Larney and his guitar reminds us just how skilled he is with words and a six string.

You might think Larney's songs are tailor made for '60s and '70s folk revivalists, though there's a very contemporary indie vibe running through this, conjuring sounds like a happier Wilco. After hearing hundreds of singer-songwriter albums this year, few have reeled me in as quickly as At The Starting Line. The detailed songwriting, the timeless hooks and the expressive singing are delivered with such sophistication and lack of pretension, I'm betting anyone willing to give this disc their time will be greatly impressed.

Rating: B+

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