Songs of Love and War

Duncan Browne

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Songs of Love and War Review

by Bruce Eder

Duncan Browne's final album, released poshumously two years after his death, is a gloriously beautiful (and all the more tragic, for that reason) swan song. Browne's magnificently expressive voice and guitar are nicely showcased in the relatively stripped down yet still art rock-focused sound of his late-career work -- "Scull Twins" and "Misunderstood" are still unabashed successors to the kind of pop art sounds with which Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry were wowing critics around the world in the 1970s, as well as recalling the lightest moments of King Crimson's early to mid-'70s work; and the guitar instrumental "Berceuse" is a reminder of Browne's personal roots in classical guitar, which still informed his music-making 25 years on. Few in the press -- at least, outside of England (apart from pop music maven/goddess Janis Schacht) -- ever gravitated to Browne; but his music had what it took for that kind of recognition, from incredibly high "haunt count" ballads like "Love Leads You" and "I Fall Again" to the seductive rockers, too many to name here but including a killer rendition of "Wild Places," "The Small Hours," and "Suddenly Last Summer." Colin Blunstone is the most recognizable of the notable musicians who put the finishing touches on this album for Browne, who passed away before completing it in May of 1993. Anyone who was ever a fan of the man owes to themselves, as well as to the artist's memory, to track this album down and hear it -- it's not a cash-in effort, but a fully realized collection of wholly worthwhile music, in whatever context one chooses to hear it.

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