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Separated By the Sea

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Album Review

While generally enthusiastic, critical reception to the debut album of Yorkshire singer/songwriter Findlay Brown was also tempered by the inclusion of "Come Home" in a credit card ad, as well as by suspicions of mythomania on the artist's promo bio. These lead skeptics to take Brown's claims at sincerity with a pinch of salt. For all of those not living in the U.K. or indifferent to the finicky nature of the British music press and industry, you can only welcome Separated by the Sea with open arms. Since the early '90s there has been a steady renaissance of the introspective, ambitious singer/songwriter: Will Oldham, Cat Power, Ron Sexsmith, M. Ward, Iron & Wine, Sufjan Stevens, the list could go on an on. Indeed, in these past few years, artists working on that vein seem to be mushrooming just about everywhere, from Sweden to Argentina. It is fair to assume that only a few of this wave of new troubadours will prove as compelling as the artists mentioned above. Most are more accomplished than truly original, and it is often easy to get them confused. That, however, should not prevent you from recognizing and enjoying the really good new albums that the genre seems to be issuing month after month. Findlay Brown's Separated by the Sea is an excellent case in point. The influences largely point to the classic early-'70s songwriter acts such as Paul Simon, Nick Drake, Cat Stevens, or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. These are both obvious choices and their mark is so much in evidence throughout Separated by the Sea that the record could be called a revelation. Still, the quality of its songs cannot be denied, either. "I Will (Ghost Ship)," "Down Among the Dead Men," and "Twin Green Pram," to name a few highlights of a thoroughly consistent album, all manage to be immediately affecting and still remain elusive enough to linger in the listener's memory. Simian's Simon Lord production unobtrusively wraps the album in a contemporary sonic veneer, but it is Brown's voice that renders the material so emotionally rewarding. Almost always doubling himself in different registers, as if trying to be both Simon & Garfunkel, his vocals and haunting harmonies set Findlay Brown apart from the rest of the singer/songwriting crowd. His lyrics, on the other hand, often promise more than what they actually deliver. One of the best albums of its genre in 2007, Separated by the Sea is a superb collection of contemporary British folk songs, and hopefully the promise of more and even better things from Findlay Brown.


Born: 11 May 1979 in York, Yorkshire, England

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s

British singer/songwriter Findlay Brown spent his formative years bare-knuckle fighting in the East Ridings region of Yorkshire. A chance encounter with a Jimi Hendrix record eventually turned the jail-bound youth from brawler to musician, and upon relocating to York, Brown became immersed in the local music scene. Financially destitute, the newly minted artist sold the Beatles autographs his grandfather had given him, bought himself a guitar, and eventually moved to London to pursue a solo career....
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Separated By the Sea, Findlay Brown
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