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The Iowa Waltz - 30th Anniversary Edition

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Album Review

As sweet as a watermelon on a hot summer afternoon, and as a beautifully simple as dusty country road, Greg Brown's Iowa Waltz shows the man who later was to become one of the greatest folk singers of his generation at his earliest and most casually sublime. A panegyric to Brown's native Iowa, the album has more of a relaxed, group-oriented feel than his later work, as if it were a bunch of friends playing together in a farmhouse on a hot summer evening. The album has a scratchy, low-fi, almost organic feel to it, and sounds as if were a tape recording of a worn-out old '78. Heard in today's digital age, the album harkens back to a time and place where neither time nor people moved too quickly. The ennui that small town life can bring is not ridiculed here or held up to the harsh light of grotesque irony, but is celebrated as the last refuge of the sane, as in "Counting Feedcaps." While that trademark grandfather storyteller-esque growl has not yet developed, he sings like a man in love with and firmly rooted to place ("Mississippi Serenade," "Grand Junction,") like both a city kid let out to the outer reaches of the country for the first time and an old man going home again. Songs such as "Out in the Country" and "Walking the Beans" show a singer at one with the sensory pleasures of life, and "Daughters" is as beautiful song about raising the weaker sex as ever was written (are there any others?). If Iowa Waltz doesn't stir your soul, then check your pulse.


Born: 1949 in Fairfield, IA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Critic Josh Kun once described singer and songwriter Greg Brown as "a Midwestern existentialist hobo with a quick-draw mouth, a bloodied heart, and bourbon on his breath." One of the leading contemporary folk artists of the American Midwest, Brown's music reflects a poetic spirit while also sounding thoroughly down to Earth; his deep, craggy voice expresses quirky humor and the mysteries of life and love with equal skill, and over the course of a career that's spanned more than five decades, he's...
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