Album Review: Louis Brennan – Dead Capital

Louis Brennan might be one of the most interesting performers in folk today. Born in Dublin, living in London and recording in Berlin he is the archetype of the troubadour of old; a globetrotting musician with a voice that can cut to the bone and an almost painful and brutal honesty. His new release Dead Capital is an extraordinary album that ekes the darkness out from your heart.

Finding the words to accurately describe Dead Capital is like trying to find your pulse in the dark, one moment it’s there and the next it’s gone. As Dead Capital plays out with Brennan’s exemplary verbiage it makes you almost lost for words. With most performers there is a clear attribute that reaches you first, be it their voice, their music or their lyrics but with Brennan it’s different – everything hits you all at once. With a voice unlike anything you have ever heard before, Brennan brings a deep baritone style to his work that positively drips with emotion. This is something that sits perfectly alongside his beautiful and earnest songs that pierce right through to your heart. Brennan is brutally honest, addressing the painful thoughts that exist in all of us. His songs are tinged with darkness but there is something so comforting in this dark honesty – there is a sense of harmony and unity in his work that allows you to so easily identify with him. Brennan is able to build a deep and intimate relationship with his listeners as his songs delve into the likes of broken relationships, tense commutes to soulless jobs, the endless questioning of existence and even the threat of suicide. This honestly is so refreshing because although he focusses on the causes for these attributes everything he presents is faced inwards, there is no blame placed, only the raw emotion that comes from pain and anxiety.

With vocals that creak like time itself, Brennan has a powerful and enduring quality; the voice of a man who has survived all the darkness that the world had to throw at him. A richly talented musician, Brennan knows precisely what to do to compliment his lofty vocals and surrounds himself with soft and dextrous guitar melodies and tender violin scores. There are different kinds of silence in the world and Brennan is a master of them all as what can only be described as a raging silence exists through so many of his songs. There is a drastic contrast in his music as he is able to deftly break this silence as he brings his music to life like an ancient beast being roused from centuries of slumber. Brennan can surround himself with a veritable storm of sound as he breaks the mould on every genre. Country, folk and gospel combine with an alternative state of rock to build these charmed and resonant songs. Selfish Lover is a perfect example of both Brennan’s acute honesty and his experimental sound stylings that allow him to switch between his violent silence and his raucous state.

Brennan’s lyrics, voice and music are all exemplary but when presented together they are almost inextricable from one another – as if no single aspect could even dream of existing without the other. The tender honesty that is presented in Dead Capital resonates with every listener, shining a light on the darkness inside us all but in doing so helps to drive it away. Dead Capital might be the most important album of the year or it might be the most important album of your life.

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Review by Joe Knipe

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