Greg Brown

Honey in the Lion's Head

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Greg Brown built his rep as one of the mover and shakers on the contemporary folk scene with his detailed writing and deep baritone. Honey in the Lion's Head takes a detour from his usual fare by delving into a dozen traditional songs from "Old Smokey" to "Railroad Bill." The arrangements, with an exception or two, are straightforward enough. A nice blend of acoustic guitars, banjo, and bass will allow most folk purists to put aside their singer/songwriter prejudices. Even with cozy arrangements, however, the final mix is sprightly enough to entice listeners who appreciate a clean, layered sound. Brown's deep, ragged voice also evokes "authentic" folk music, as though he'd just been discovered in some Appalachian holler by a folklorist. Honey in the Lion's Head gets points for attempting to put some life into the most familiar of folk tunes including "Down in the Valley," and "I Don't Want Your Millions Mister." Unfortunately, most of the songs are taken at a sluggish pace, as though Brown was trying to see how long he could make them. "Down in the Valley" and "Old Smokey" wear out their welcome in three minutes, but stick around for five. Despite Brown's lethargic pacing, fans of traditional music will be glad someone dusted off these venerable songs and put a bit of life in them.

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