Tom Hallett - Round the Dial Magazine - 2008
Russ Brown - The Fugitive Peace - 2008
Minneapols roots rocker Russ Brown and his band proudly balance a cornucopia of styles on The Fugitive Peace, an album that speaks just as succinctly for rowdy, smoky-tavern barn-burners as it does for well-studied personal, social and political musical observations. Opening with Las Vegas Blvd. the band immediately establishes its ability to capture the angsty, urgent groove of early Uncle Tupelo or Blue Mountain.
The disc takes an abrupt turn with the almost-shy, lulling wave of Dirt Road, Brown's city-billy vocals riding easily atop brittle acoustic strumming and damn-the-torpedoes lyrics. Til My Lawyer Says Otherwise deftly showcases a knack for pumping out catchy country/pop chestnuts with biting, whip-smart lines, while Fortress Americana is a dire warning note that keenly hides a serious political message inside of a slow-burning, anti-genre rant.
Fall Into Memphis is mindful of a Neil Young outtake circa After The Gold Rush; buzz-saw guitars shouldering in next to high-lonesome harp blasts and spine-tingling lines like, "I don't wanna be your '68 comeback special/I don't wanna be the friend that you always call/I don't wanna pass out by the gates at Graceland/And I don't wanna be there when you fall into Memphis..."
The title track closes the disc, a choked-out ode to lost love, broken dreams, and deep-seated, unmitigated regret that teeters precariously on the edge of surrender and self-doubt. To call this music "thinking man's country/rock" would take away from the sheer, unspoiled chutzpah this outfit exudes on even the most melancholy of tracks Brown may not be stomping on previously unmarked ground, but he and his band prove with The Fugitive Peace that there's always another side, another take, and another angle to be explored. This release leaves no doubt that they have the chops to make a believer out of even the most jaded roots-rock fan.