Bob Seger

Brand New Morning

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Bob Seger's Mongrel may have been a terrific album, but nobody heard it, just like its predecessor. So Capitol was ready to drop him and wanted a contract-fulfilling album as soon as possible. Seger delivered the low-key, introspective Brand New Morning to get out of the deal. Later he claimed that the album was a collection of demos released somewhat against his will, but listening to the record it's hard to believe that these intimate yet fully realized songs were bare-bone work versions. Furthermore, it's hard to see these as just a collection of tossed-off tunes, since they're well-rounded and uniformly engaging, not throwaways. In light of Seger's past prior to Brand New Morning and the records that followed it, it's easy to see why he's disowned it, since it's no rock & roll album -- it's a singer/songwriter album. It's the first and only time that his ambitions as a songwriter are laid bare, which may make it uncomfortable for him in retrospect. He needn't be worried, since Brand New Morning is a fine album on its own terms. Yes, none of the songs resonate as deeply as the best ballads on his other records, and there are times where it feels like he's very conscious of proving himself as a writer, but in light of his later work, that's quite charming. That's what makes the album something more than a curiosity and into something quietly pivotal in Seger's catalog. There are no classics here (though the title track, "Maybe Today," "Sometimes," and "Railroad Days" are all very good), but the charm of the record is hearing Seger consciously working on his craft. He's occasionally too earnest, or a little precious, yet it's an endearing transitional album.

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