Australian singer-songwriter Brett Every brings his second effort (after his excellent Camping Out) and further cements his standing as an artist deserving of attention across the musical spectrum. Even better than the debut, "Fairy Godmother's Gone To Vegas" is the voice of a lost soul wandering the after hours streets after the bars have closed, the lights have gone out and the plastic facades are shown for the false promises they really are. There hasn't been a singer this gloriously bare-boned glum since Mark Eitzel.
The lyrics here nay come off as manic-depressive, but they often underscore the stinging wit you'd expect with a title like "Fairy Godmother's Gone To Vegas." Lines like
"Is it coincidence he's saying just what your last two exes said before they walked out together through the swinging door?"
are delivered with a dry last call voice and not a hint of a smirk, even though I let loose a snort the first time I heard them. At the same time, this song, "Prince Charming" (along with "Mr Smith" and "The Fire That was Never Lit") tackle relationships without playing the pronoun games many gay singers fall into. "The Fire That Was Never Lit" in particular is affecting in its exploration of unexplored question about that guy you want to ask "are you?" but are all too frightened of the double-edged consequences of a double-negative answer. Even more of a delight to me is just how expertly Brett balances this conundrum with his voice and low-key, jazz inflected backing.
Brett also take a pair of covers and claims them. Kate McGarrigle's "Come a Long Way" gets a solo guitar/voice take to close the album, but it's his version of Bette Midler's "Come Back Jimmy Dean" that strikes home. I'm finding myself liking Brett's longingly beautiful version more than the original. If you could imagine Tom Waits at his most melodic tackling show tunes, then you'll love what Brett does with one of Midler's signature songs. Which kind of sums up for me why I am smitten by "Fairy Godmother's Gone to Vegas." Having someone who can draw a favorable comparison to Midler, Waits or maybe even Leonard Cohen is pretty remarkable to me. Brett Every is on a par with these folks and is up among my favorite out performers like Mark Weigle.