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MP3 Brian Sharpe - The Usual Stories & Usual Lies

Alternative acoustic urban folk rock...

15 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Acoustic, POP: Today''s Top 40

Brian Sharpe was born in Santa Barbara, California, raised in Germany and grew up in Chicago, Illinois after moving there to go to college. While studying acting at the prestigious Theatre School at DePaul University, Sharpe began being cast in roles that required his skills as a singer, composer and guitarist; skills he had developed while playing his first original songs at open mic nights in coffee houses and bars and in a back yard cover band (that played everything from Billy Joel, Elton John and The Eagles to Van Halen, Madonna and Journey) in the suburbs of Sacramento, California where he attended high school. This carried over into his professional career and after numerous gigs around the Midwest as actor/composer/musical-director including appearing in and writing music for Shakespearean plays and the award-winning indie film, The Rest of Your Life, Brian has finally released his first full-length album, The Usual Stories & Usual Lies.

Sharpe’s sound is a blend of many influences. His tough and throaty voice feels weathered and wise beyond his twenty-something years and is a result of growing up listening to tapes and CD’s by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Marc Cohn, Dire Straits and Steve Earle. His inventive and expressive guitar playing has a percussive edge to it that sounds bigger and badder then a 6-string acoustic guitar ever looks like it should sound and came about in college after he discovered and immersed himself in the techniques of Peter Mulvey, Mark Knopfler, Willy Porter and Bruce Cockburn. His songs are at once both muscular and fragile and feel like a wisp of smoke inside a glass of whiskey at 3 am in the dead of winter. Supported by intelligent, witty and sometimes heartbreaking lyrics, Brian''s music has drawn comparisons to Pete Yorn, Jeff Buckley, Bob Schneider, Rhett Miller and John Mayer.

“On The Usual Stories & Usual Lies, Brian Sharpe’s smoky, slightly raspy, yet warm and knowing voice spins the musical flax over a range of subject matter. His songs proffer forth musical commentary about love, loss, hope, dreams, and just a touch of New York City geography.” Writes Greg Rolnick, former music contributor to https://www.tradebit.com.

“A talented musician (he played multiple instruments, in addition to producing and recording the disc), Sharpe knows how to augment his songs with clever touches of a Hammond organ or backwards tape loop. Of course, the studio trickery is kept to a minimum, as not to shift the focus away from the lyrics and melody, where they belong.”

The songwriting is far from usual but the stories are universal.

The record begins, and in the opening chords and verse of Long Island Sound there is a pressure building like the kinetic energy in a rollercoaster climbing the first hill that provides the momentum for the whole ride. The chorus is a downbeat explosion transporting the listener into the world that Sharpe works in: his fingers dancing around the acoustic fretboard effortlessly while leaving space for the accompaning half distorted electrics, dirty organs and electric pianos that direct the focus of the arrangements on the songwriting.

Another uptempo hook in Candystore Dropout and the album then smoothly transitions into songs that feature Brian Sharpe’s true gift as a songwriter: lyrical storytelling. Last Goodbye tells the story of a tired relationship falling apart on a cold sidewalk one blustery afternoon. Bar On 4th Ave. is the sad yet hopeful tale of a young woman left alone in an unfamilliar place. Just Like You finds the wave of a warm groove rolling in with wisdom and passion riding on its crest. Santa Cruz, is a beautiful valentine. The construction invokes Lyle Lovett, with its wit and snapshots and musical accents sweeping us off to that corner bar in Austin as the album’s title swirls its way out of the first verse.

The locomotive, alternative-rock crash of Anastasia, a sexy and irrisistable femme fatale, leads into the tense, acoustic slap-groove of Franklin Street about a vulnerable girl struggling to escape a destructive and intoxicating environment to end the first half of the CD.

The second half of Sharpe’s album opens with the hazy midnight crush of That Would Be a First before climbing back up to anthemic heights with Secret. It then gives a new and noir-ish look at one of Elvis Costello’s oldest and most unusual songs (Watching The Detectives) after taking a sweet and simple moment for a romantic appeal in Love Song No. 1.

With the electronic buzz and crawl of The Daily and the tiny acoustic lull of Last Chance, that reminds you of the empty bar-room sound of Tom Waits’ Closing Time, Sharpe returns to exploring the dark themes of desperation and loss and you almost think he’s not going to let you out, until he ends with the sugary country twang of Love Song No. 2.

Brian Sharpe’s debut opens with a contemporary Top 40 bang and closes with an obscure 1970’s whisper and a hope. It’s as if you’re travelling through his life in reverse. Between these two points it swirls and screams, growls and sighs. It crafts intricate tales that are sometimes brash and bold and at others humble and plain; but the storytelling stays true throughout. Sharpe’s songs are about the stories that he’s experienced and the stories that you’ve experienced. The lies you’ve heard and the lies you’ve told. They are The Usual Stories & Usual Lies.

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