Grace Braun/DQE

Grace Braun/DQE

I’m Your Girl

Dark Beloved Cloud

In a time when popular music as become so glossy and sterile that is sounds like packing peanuts, art of the sort created by Grace Braun will be as welcome to some ears as it will horrify others. Unashamedly personal, rough, this is honest, pure expression that sounds so unforced one would think it was recorded in one take. Fans of Jad Fair, Daniel Johnston and others of that particular universe will feel right at home here, and with two CDs totaling 37 songs, it’s a large house. The first CD is Grace Braun with “Her Midnight Ramblers” — John Armstrong on bass and guitar with longtime Braun ally Dugan Trodglen on drums, and is mainly acoustic, country-blues sort of stuff, and this is where Braun’s songwriting and delivery shine. Mixing in a few covers such as Nick Drake’s “Parasite” and “Time Has Told Me” and a few Carter Family standards, this is engaging, edgy “folk” (for lack of a better term) music that isn’t crippled by too much attention, but left to stand on its own, which it does, quite well.

Disc two is DQE, Braun’s legendary garage band, which features Braun along with John Armstrong and Dugan Trodglen… get the picture here? DQE is all electric, but not strident about it. Braun has toned down some of her rougher edges over the years (an early record was named Masturbation Made a Mess of Me), but she hasn’t pulled her punches, musically or lyrically. Braun realizes that vocally, she isn’t going to make anyone forget Joni Mitchell, but her honest, wavering voice helps sell material such as “Passive Aggressive” or the devilish “Hot Dog!” in a way that a more trained, mannered voice could never do. Remember the moments when Mo Tucker would sing in The Velvets? It’s something like that. Long may Grace Braun — in whatever format she chooses — reign.

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