A few years ago, I was privileged to interview Cheap Trick’s drummer, Bun E. Carlos, about a short list of his favorite songs. Bun E. went on and on in our conversation about how much he loved artists like The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and Wilco, because of their great songwriting, and how he felt the art of the song has become somewhat lost. “When I think about what moves me, I think of those acoustic albums Dylan put out in the ’90s, like World Gone Wrong and As Good As I’ve Been to You,” Bun E told me. “They’re full of songs that are 70 years old, and they’re all great, and real simple. If you listen to a Stones album from the ’60s or a Beatles album, the simpler songs with the less topical stuff on them age better, too. A well-written song lasts a long time.” I had to pull that quote out because that’s how I felt when I listened to Mark Brine’s newest CD, For Karrie. On this CD’s first few songs at least, Brine sounds more like a young Bob Dylan than Dylan himself. I could totally hear Brine covering “Shelter From the Storm” and no one being able to tell the difference. That’s what initially drew me in, because I love old Bob Dylan, but what really got to me was how good Mark’s songwriting is.
While I had not heard of Mark Brine before receiving this CD, he has apparently been around for a long time; working in the background of the music business in Nashville in the ’60s and later breaking from that scene and recording his debut album in 1985. For Karrie covers a broad range of styles so there really is something for every taste: whether you like country, folk, pop or have a fondness for traditional standards. Mark’s love songs range from the upbeat, frisky feel of “Baby, You Move Me” to a more sentimental, traditional song like”Always Open Arms.” There’s also a warm hearted humor to “8th Grade Romance (…And They Danced)” that reminded me of something my parents might have listened to, although the message is timeless. Mark’s compositions also touch the heart deeply with the bittersweet sentimentality of songs like “Stephen” and “Blue Roses.” These are just really great songs, and the arrangements and instrumentation are flawless.
I think what makes Mark Brine such a gifted songwriter/storyteller is the fact that he seems to be such an obvious fan of many genres of music. He’s someone who is like a sponge when it comes to absorbing and reintegrating influences into his own work. For example, the cadence and lyrical structure of “Even Blind Faith Has to See” reminded me of Arlo Guthrie’s classic “City of New Orleans” — a song that was popular when I was a little kid. The funny thing about that song is how the guitar chords also reminded me of a completely different song that was popular around the same time, “Summer Song” by the Mersey Beat pop duo of Chad & Jeremy. It takes an educated ear to pick out that kind of thing, but it’s worth mentioning. For Karrie is an album that any fan of great songs will enjoy. You could even buy it for your parents!
Mark Brine: http://www.markbrine.com/