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I Can't Make You Free

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Album Review

If Brian Gari's previous album, Love Online, was about a couple that met together on the net and tried to make it work, I Can't Make You Free is the story of a love affair that divides a marriage in two. Gari's trick, which is quite clever, is to divide the album in two — the first half told by the man who falls in love with a married woman, the second by the husband, with the fulcrum of the album, "Two Men," sung by Alison Fraser, in the character of the wife. As such, I Can't Make You Free winds up being a fairly ambitious work, and it's to his credit (as well as his collaborator, producer/arranger/engineer Jeff Olmsted) as a craftsman that it works quite well. Much of the record is firmly in a soft-rock, singer/songwriter tradition, yet it carries the distinct influence of Burt Bacharach and Brian Wilson, which gives the album a lushness even when the tracks aren't overly dressed. Gari also is nimble in varying the sound, dabbling in jazz, classic vocal pop, epic pop/rock, and stark, piano-based ballads. The music has as much of a narrative thrust as the story itself, which helps make the entire album compelling and a unique feat.

I Can't Make You Free, Brian Gari
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