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FLAKE BROWN – Help the Overdog (Autumn Ferment)

Posted: August 24th, 2008, by Pascal Ansell

The fledgling Scottish label Autumn Ferment have done it again in sharing with the world another fantastically original folk artist. When not singing, Flake Brown is a father named Tony Ramsay, a folk-guitar fiddler fiddling his way around whirs of plucked strings and tastily surreal lyrics. Admittedly the combination of folk + odd voice + humour (albeit a slight, tasteful wit) does not immediately smack you of making an enjoyable listen. But his debut album ‘Help the Overdog’ is a real grower; his distinctive voice turns from strange to charming and you realise you’re in the company of a jolly good album.

Flake has a friendly bass-baritone voice which he shows off with terrific low humming. He’s the owner of what I would have assumed is a West Country croak, but Sussex is where he really hails so I’m a quite a few miles off at least.

There are some classic folk song-titles here: ‘Pilgrim Song’, ‘The Weathercatcher’ and ‘Eddie the Puss’, but nothing in the album suggests trite folk idioms. The latter song is wonderfully perplexing:

I am a mistress of fate,
I wait for you at the gate…
Staple my face to the hours…
Skate on the top of your breath,
Ride on the wings of desire,
Buy a house and then retire.
Be good to mum throughout life,
Go to the shops, buy a knife…

and includes some sinister chuckling and the two longest hums I’ve ever heard. ‘The Angry Courtyard’ hits you in the stomach with its sheer beauty, and is coupled with some spectacular lyrics: “Moon drips into the Angry Courtyard… I watch the life that dangled on your thigh”.

Flake is funny but never facetious and has a witty idiosyncrasy that makes comparison very tricky. Sadly, and this is very sadly, Flake’s guitar playing can be pretty scatty when trying to impress. Most of the album displays an original and reserved take on some very tricky folk fingerpicking, and this is when he performs best. His guitar playing is can be too ambitious towards the end of the album and songs are spoiled, but not ruined, by some pretty shoddy playing. He’s no Django and does at times attempt playing which only a virtuoso could pick, slide, hammer and pull off. This is, however, the only criticism I can (very reluctantly) find in such a fine, fine, grand, wonderful, humorous, comforting album – an album helped me find peace in a rush-hour, oh-shit-I’ve-lost-my-keys London. A must for metropophobes!

Flake Brown Myspace

Pascal Ansell

Pascal Ansell

Pascal is a fearsome, hungry giant trapped in the body of a hyperactive boy. On a mission to waste no more than 14 seconds per day, he bounds from activity to activity like a deer being chased by a cheetah. Follow him now, as in ten year's time he'll be a leading voice in something or other. He's also writing down every word you say in a small book so watch out!


1 Response to FLAKE BROWN – Help the Overdog (Autumn Ferment)

  1. Mark

    I performed last night at a show that Flake also played at. Best thng I’ve seen in ages! What a great performer.