Gentry Bronson

Gentry Bronson

Gentry Bronson

Gentry Bronson

EPs are appetizers, and the best EPs are the ones that leave listeners lusting after a full-length. Randy double-meanings aside, Gentry Bronson teases newbies with his latest effort, a four-track CD that captures the Bay Area musician’s various moods and creative styles. This is authentic singer/songwriter craftsmanship and not the bogus cookie-cutter acoustic pop of Jack Johnson and his clones. In the emotionally fragile opening cut, Bronson describes himself as “living in a world that’s falling apart.” On one hand, it’s a reflection on middle age; as you become older, heading past your 30s and on the road to gray hairs and wrinkled skin, you seem to fade away from a world that worships the young. In other words, you become like a ghost, haunting daily life while still alive. But it can also be viewed as the state of the nation post-9/11, a country on the brink of political and financial ruin. Whichever way “Beautiful Ghost” is interpreted, there’s no denying the razor-sharp edges of Bronson’s observations.

The lighthearted “Wild Women” echoes Bronson’s San Francisco roots. This John Mellencamp-styled character piece pays tribute to the liberated female, in this case a chick who “walks around naked with a pair of boots on.” That could very well describe the hippie girls of Bronson’s beloved city. Although the title makes one think of the R-rated fantasies of ’80s spandex metal, Bronson takes a literary, feminist approach to the subject. He is celebrating their love of freedom, the giddiness they feel in proudly strutting nude before their neighbors. Musically, “Wild Women” doesn’t have the rock-charged tone that you’d expect from such subject matter. Bronson’s evocative piano and Jesse Brewster’s chunky guitar riffs give it a warm, mid-tempo groove.

It’s on the last two songs wherein Bronson seals the deal on creating lifelong fans. The introspective “The Queen & the Clown” mirrors the metaphor-laden imagery of Don McLean and Simon & Garfunkel without the clunky poetry that many of their imitators have tortured us with. The closing “8th & Harrison” is a midnight bar ballad that Tom Waits could have sung. For an EP, Bronson has produced an album’s worth of emotional power, and the music continues to linger hours later.

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