Why Greg Brown isn't a star on the order of Springsteen is one of life's mysteries. He's a superb American songwriter, able to distill the experience of living, whether on the stark "Lull It By" or the sensual sway of "Let Me Be Your Gigolo." If anything, his writing is becoming sparer than ever before; short lines create a succession of images on "Smell of Coffee," building into an overall image. His love songs have a tender maturity -- "Milk of the Moon," for example, is the passion of a grown man. Brown is a man of the Midwest and doesn't try to hide it; quite the opposite -- he celebrates it and its flavor suffuses every piece of his work. He can look back without ever seeming overly sentimental, too, as in "Telling Stories," which evokes small scenes from the past without ever feeling it needs a conclusion -- just a mood. His deep voice -- like Tom Waits without the whiskey crack -- sounds like the voice of long experience, as in "Oh You," which sounds like a life story in a few minutes, the tale of a woman whose journey isn't over. Brown doesn't so much tell stories as suggest them, letting them work their way into the imagination. And in that way, he's a master, an American icon.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson