Nothing But The Truth

Stephen Bruton

New West Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


As a lover of folk music in general, I guess I should be ecstatic about the recent trend that sees country music merging with folk more and more. This is, by no means, a new concept; the late Townes Van Zandt and Billy Joe Shaver have all mastered this songwriting technique.

But when the end result is performed in a melancholy way, the overall result is less than positive. This is the case with my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Nothing But The Truth, the latest disc from Stephen Bruton. I'm sure this could have been a killer disc, if Bruton didn't sing and perform as if he was singing from a hammock, sipping a lemonade.

There are times that Bruton reminds me of Bruce Springsteen, kicking back on his guitar and spinning a tale that needs to be told, such as on "When Love Finds You," or allowing just the beauty of his music to take hold of your soul, as on the album closer "Spirit Lake". Times like these are special, and Bruton knows how to keep you interested until the last note has faded out.

But there are other times where such a laid-back approach just doesn't work as well. "Everything Happens For A Reason", all six minutes' worth, is a song that could have been told in half the time with double the guitar work. This particular track seems to be locked in to one guitar riff, and it's a boring one at that.

And while the more gentle, laid-back approach occasionally works, in the end, Nothing But The Truth could have used a little excitement injected into its music. Tracks like "Against My Will," "She's The Reason" and "Nobody Gets Hurt" all tend to mush together in a broken-heart jumble of notes and long, drawn-out vocals. One word for the next album: variety.

And it's not that Bruton isn't trying; it's just that in the haze of melancholia, I'm certain some wonderful stories are being lost in the translation. I don't think that was Bruton's intention; maybe it's that this is a disc that requires not only several listens, but also some serious thought.

Nothing But The Truth is a disc that has its moments, but if the truth be told, it could have been a little more exciting and dynamic, musically speaking.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of New West Records, and is used for informational purposes only.