Bronwynne Brent Makes Songs About Connecting on ‘Undercover’ 

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Bronwynne Brent Makes Songs About Connecting on ‘Undercover’ 

Artist: Bronwynne Brent 

Album: Undercover 

Corbie Hill Posted On December 28, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: As album releases slow down in December, we like to catch our breath and write about albums that came out earlier in the year that we didn’t get a chance to review but we think are worthy of your attention. Undercover was released in June. 

Bronwynne Brent only needs four understated, finger-plucked acoustic guitar chords to set the delicious bluesy swing of “Lost in the Moonlight” in motion. Her song’s groove is well established by the time the drums, horns, and jazzy organ make their tasteful entrances. 

“It’s after midnight / And I’m feeling so spry / Got a spring in my step / Fireworks like the Fourth of July,” Brent sings, dancing playfully through her lyrics’ meter. “Why go on waiting / Anticipating? / Kiss me, you fool / It’s just right / I know that you want me / So don’t play and taunt me / Tonight I’m going to make you mine.” 

In a year of “unexpectedly timely” records (if the publicists are to be believed … ), Brent released a decidedly not-COVID album. Undercover exists in the half-nervous, half-thrilled psychic space of hitting the town, of getting close to strangers. This is a social record that nearly dropped, by pure bad luck, almost exactly when the word social became inextricably tied to distance: Undercover was initially slated for an April 10 release, and would have released mere days or weeks (depending on the state) into quarantine. Undercover was delayed until June and released with little fanfare, and so a passionate, nuanced record — one of 2020’s strongest releases, if you ask this reviewer — flew straight under the radar. 

Undercover is upbeat, heady, and romantic. It’s sensual and structurally feminist — there’s no questioning Brent’s sexual agency — and remarkably frank about the often unstated, self-esteem-challenging aspects of dating life (“I know it’s late / I know I’m not / What you want / I’m what you got”). It’s an album about all the things we can’t do right now, and it evokes them in their beauty and ugliness with equal parts passion and levelheadedness. 

“He’s a real big talker / fills me full of dreams,” Brent sings over jangly psych-pop on “Big Talker,” her versatile voice, which can swagger in Patsy Cline’s register or reach for the low rafters, taking a Dolores O’Riordan lilt in this instance. “Always leave empty / he’s not what he seems.” 

Indeed, versatility — emotional, vocal, stylistic — is a keyword on Undercover. This Greenville, Mississippi, songwriter angles toward midcentury French pop-meets-Morcheeba’s The Antidote on title track “Undercover,” while the delicate “Raincoat” could have emerged from the Greenwich village singer-songwriter circuit. Undercover was recorded in Daptone Studios, and that spirit is clear in the stately horns and gentle Motown shuffle of “You’ve Lost Your Way.” 

“You come home early in the morning / You think everybody is asleep / She’s been sitting with her eyes wide open / and tears running down her cheeks,” Brent sings on her cover of Chuck Willis’ “Whatcha Gonna Do When Your Baby Leaves You.” Rather than glorifying the life of a man who stays out all night playing nightclubs, this 1956 blues cut focuses on the woman left lonely and dejected at home — and her imminent departure. Brent’s confidence, phrasing, and vocal power drive home that when this woman leaves, it’ll be a victory. 

She’ll be fine. She’ll be out on the town. And she’ll be in control.

Blabber 'n' Smoke A Glasgow view of Americana  

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Bronwynne Brent. Undercover  2020 by Paul Kerr 

It’s been some time since Bronwynne Brent released Stardust, an album which achieved near universal acclaim. Backed up by some impressive live shows in the UK, Brent came across as an up to date Karen Dalton, a folkie with a jazz inflection to her voice, and on Undercover, she travels a little further along this route. 

Undercover is not as beguiling as its predecessor, it’s a more straightforward album in style and there seems to be less despair as Brent’s vocals dance happily over some pretty upbeat songs. Dig a little deeper however and she’s still singing of broken hearts. That said, the songs are enlivened with an inventive array of keyboards, ranging from the 1960’s Farfisa like parps on the title song to the whirling organ on Someone That I Loved. The band altogether are excellent. They create a fine and funky blend of folk and soul on Walking Relapse, which comes across as if Pentangle were backed up by Billy Preston and a horn section, and then sailing into neon slicked honky tonk groovyness on Brent’s cover of Chuck Willis’ Whatcha Gonna Do When Your Baby Leaves You with Brent digging into Peggy Lee territory. Lost In The Moonlight meanwhile is a slinky late night torch song. 

Brent’s folkier side predominates on several songs. Raincoat is the first of these and, as with some songs on her last album, it’s reminiscent of Melanie’s deeper thoughts while Brent uses it as a vehicle for some inventive vocal interludes. Empty Pot Of Gold, emboldened with a tremendously sympathetic band and string arrangement is hauntingly beautiful and River Lullaby, again with a magnificent backing, is simply gorgeous.

New York Music Daily 

NEW YORK MUSIC DAILY Click here to go to see.

Global Music With a New York Edge 


January 30, 2016 

A Masterpiece of Noir and Southwestern Gothic by Bronwynne Brent 

One of the best collections of dark Americana songwriting released over the past several months is Mississippi-born singer-guitarist Bronwynne Brent’s Stardust, streaming at Spotify. It has absolutely nothing in common with the Hoagy Carmichael song. What it does recall is two other masterpieces of noir, retro-tinged rock: Karla Rose’s Gone to Town and Julia Haltigan‘s My Green Heart. Brent’s simmering blue-flame delivery draws equally on jazz, blues, torch song and oldschool C&W, as does her songwriting.  

The album’s opening track,The Mirror sets the stage, twangy Telecaster over funereal organ and Calexico’s John Convertino’s tumbling drums. “The mirror knows the cards that were dealt,” Brent accuses, “You were never there.” Keith Lowe’s ominously slinky hollowbody bass propels Another World, its eerie bolero-rock verse hitched to Brent’s dreamy chorus. She could be the only tunesmith to rhyme “felon” with “compellin’.” 

The unpredictably shifting Don’t Tell Your Secrets to the Wind picks up from spare and skeletal to menacingly lush, with biting hints of Romany, mariachi and klezmer music: Nancy Sinatra would have given twenty years off her life for something this smartly orchestrated. By contrast, the banjo-fueled Devil Again evokes the dark country of Rachel Brooke. “You’re just a prisoner watching shadows dance, dancing to your grave,” Brent intones, then backs away for a twangy Lynchian guitar solo. She keeps the low-key moodiness going throughout the softly shuffling Dark Highway, Hank Williams spun through the prism of spare 60s Dylan folk-pop.  

When You Said Goodbye brings back the southwestern gothic ambience, with artful hints of ELO art-rock. “When you said goodbye I knew that I would die alone alone,” Brent muses: the ending will rip your heart out. By contrast. Heart’s On Fire, an escape anthem, builds to more optimistic if wounded territory:”Well, you learn from your mistakes, sometimes the prisoner gets a break,” Brent recalls.  

Already Gone builds shimmery organ-fueled nocturnal ambience over a retro country sway: spare fuzztone guitar adds a surreal Lee Hazlewood touch. Bulletproof gives Brent a swinging noir blues background while she shows off her tough-girl side: it wouldn’t be out of place in the Eilen Jewell catalog. 

Heartbreaker leaves the noir behind for a spare, fingerpicked folk feel, like Emmylou Harris at her most morose. Lay Me Down blends echoes of spare Britfolk, mariachi, creepy western swing and clever references to the Ventures: “Distance grows between us, doesn’t that just free us?” Brent poses. She ends the album on a vividly Faulknerian note: “Guess I can’t stop drinking, not today,” her narrator explains,” You may think that I’m lonely and running out of time, but I’m not the marrying kind.” Add this to your 3 AM wine-hour playlist: it’ll keep the ghosts of the past far enough away where they can’t get to you. 

Blabber 'n' Smoke by Paul Kerr 

Bronwynne Brent Celtic Connections, Tron Theatre, Glasgow. January 31

OK, a bit late on this but for some reason this review wasn’t published when submitted originally. Given that it was Bronwynne’s UK debut and that Blabber’n’Smoke really dug her album I thought it worthwhile to revive it………

Bronwynne 'live'

A UK debut here for Mississippi raised Bronwynne Brent and before we say anything else a triumph over adversity as Brent’s initial plan to bring over her own musicians (including her producer Johnny Sangster) fell apart leading to plan B, a scratch band who only met the singer/songwriter two days before the show. So it was that Euan Burton, double bass player with Kris Drever and guitarist Jamie Sturt from This Silent Forest were recruited, given some sound files to work with and a day’s rehearsal with Brent on her arrival on Scottish soil. Credit to them and to Brent as the trio excelled on stage sounding for all the world as if they were road veterans and companions, Burton’s bass warming the songs while Sturt was a revelation, coaxing some sublime sounds from his guitar and effects board, always sensitive to the moods of Brent’s songs.

As for Brent herself she appears on her album sleeves as a bit of a flower child, an image belied by the almost American Gothic sound of her songs. On stage she seems like an amalgamation of the younger Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris, long flaxen hair and hesitant presence. She admitted to being nervous but once she started to sing, her voice, world weary and stained with echoes of Karen Dalton and at times Amy Winehouse had the house in thrall. Roaming from the dark folk of Dark Highway to tumbledown blues such as Wrecked My Mind Brent impressed as she invoked the spooky Americana feel of acts such as the Handsome Family , a feel that was bolstered by Sturt’s inventive sounds effects and guitar. A measure of the trio’s cohesion was the compelling version of Bulletproof, on Brent’s Stardust album an organ infused blues jaunt but tonight delivered in a spare manner before Sturt’s guitar sparked into life scattering aural gunshots from the stage. For a singer who was keen after the show to seek reassurance that her nervousness wasn’t too apparent one only has to point to the excellent rendition of Don’t Tell Your Secrets To The Wind delivered earlier. Mixing chanson and Calexico’s Tex-Mex style Brent was both coquettish and confidant while Burton and Sturt filled all spaces absent from the recorded version.

After this stage debut the trio headed off for a short UK tour and a Bob Harris session due to be broadcast in March. In the meantime tonight was a wonderful opportunity to catch a very fine songwriter and performer who might soon outgrow the relative confines of the bijou setting tonight.


Bronwynne Brent: Always Reaching | Jackson Free Press 


by Larry Morrisey Wednesday, April 29, 2015


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The singer-songwriter grew up in Greenville, which exposed her to many styles of music. Her songs have a folk spine, but she also brings in elements of pop, country and blues. At the center of Brent's sound is her strong, distinctive voice that brings to life the many characters that populate her songs, including the wanderers and the brokenhearted.

Brent is the youngest child in a family of Delta music makers. Her late mother, Carole Brent, sang pop and standards with bands when she was younger, and her father, Howard Brent, is a guitarist with a bottomless repertoire of classic country songs. Her older sisters, Jessica and Eden Brent, are also accomplished musicians. Jessica spent time as a country performer in Nashville, and Jackson audiences may know Eden for her blues-based piano playing and vocals.

Music permeated Brent's daily life when she was growing up, including times when most teenagers would have gotten in trouble with their parents.

"When I'd come in late—and I was always late—Momma would never be mad. She'd always play me and my date a song at the table," she recalls.

"Not everyone's mom does that."

Brent sang with her sisters at local events while she was a teenager, striking out on a solo career when she was in her 20s. After a three-year stint in New Orleans, she moved to Austin, Texas, in July 2011, where she recorded her debut album, "Deep Black Water," which she released that year.

"I moved to Austin thinking, 'It's the music capital of the world. This is where I need to go to get noticed,'" she says. "But what I found is that there were so many musicians there."

Brent says her most recent record, "Stardust," came about after she heard a song—indie steel-guitar player Maggie Bjorkland's "Summer Romance"—on the radio. The expansive sound captivated her. Brent tracked down the song's producer, Seattle-based musician Johnny Sangster, and in May 2013, she travelled to Seattle to record "Stardust."

Sangster assembled a talented group of backing musicians for the record, including bassist Keith Lowe, who has worked with Bill Frisell and Fiona Apple, and Calexico drummer John Convertino. They quickly learned Brent's songs and created distinctive arrangements for each one on the album. Brent admits that going out west wasn't the easiest way to start work on a new record.

"I did make things complicated," she says. "I could have just made another album in Austin, but I'm always reaching for something away from where I am."

Jumpin Hot Club- Studio Live Theatre 03/02/15 



What a treat this was! First off you had the intricate songs of Canadian award winning singer-songwriter, Amelia Curran followed by The fabulous Bronwynne Brent Trio.

On establishing a wonderful report with her audience, Amelia Curran from St Johns NL spoke of her home and goodself between her wonderful songs. As in the excellent poetic tales of “Reverie” ,in “I Am The Night” and the beautiful flowing “Blackbird On Fire”. 

A singer-songwriter of deep, sometimes quirky material lots was divulged as Curran rang the changes in an impressive artistic fashion. Most comfortable when using metaphors to describe her emotions, and personal views of life Amelia soon won over those unfamiliar with her work. 

I felt Amelia was too keen to undervalue her great talent, and given a little more confidence, she could quite easily become as near as popular here as she is back home! Her style of songwriting and end product isn’t that far removed from Nashville’s Beth Nielson Chapman...

The main act, Bronwynne Brent Trio consisted of Bronwynne Brent on acoustic guitar and vocals, plus double-bass (Euan Burton) and electric guitar, harmony vocals (Jamie Sturt) & had them making their debut trip around the UK, but with performances like this it’s sure be the first of many tours. 

While her two sidemen took a little while to connect with her musically, which was partly due to them standing way to her left, they did eventually become a complete unit. By which time the audience were hooked, line and sinker with her work. 

Bob Harris for one hasn’t been slow in discovering Bronwynne's talent with the Trio doing a recording session for his show (check the BBC’s website for details) while over here. 

I understand it was Bronwynne’s first trip of any real distance outside her home State of Mississippi, which I found difficult to believe on hearing the little lady sing. Her ability to draw the listener in through her staggering range of vocals and nail a song was both a rarity and a delight throughout her show. 

Brent’s musical style not only embraces the American South as country, blues, folk and hints of jazz are tied together, but through a fine art of story-telling she took the listener into her own very special little world. 

It was interesting to hear the quiet, unassuming Brent confess to finding it hard to sit before an audience. But able to do one to ones and also talk freely with the checkout girl. But she did nothing wrong on stage and a host of things right, not least she showed great control with her voice. 

Apart from a stop you dead in your tracks voice, which boasts hints of Billie Holiday and on occasions the furrow she walks isn’t too distant from the finest tones of Amy Winehouse, Brent sounded as rural and charming as they come ! 

As for her best songs, the dark “Devil Again” and “After You’re Gone” and an irony filled “Don’t Tell Your Secrets To The Wind” was of another class. There were other excellent songs too, plus she finished with another “Fire In The Hole”. This, as Brent acknowledged the work of the late singer-songwriter, Hazel Dickens. What a talent, what a terrific find. 

Maurice Hope -( pics Charles & Juan )

Americana UK  



  • A record at its best when it’s dark

Bronwynne Brent’s latest album ‘Stardust’ truly is as an amalgamation of sounds. Brent dabbles in roots music but with hints of Marricone, a touch of spaghetti western, a sprinkling of country waltzes, and all while tackling subject matters that would not go amiss on a Nick Cave album.

In many ways ‘Stardust’ sounds like a Calexico album, but headed by Portishead’s Beth Gibbons. Considering the US Americana legends drummer appears on the record, perhaps this was inevitable.

As with Calexico, Brent is at her best when there is a sting and mystery to her music. Her voice, a fragile sounding instrument which packs an unexpected punch, really suits the spikiness of songs like ‘Don’t Tell Your Secrets To The Wind’ and ‘Bulletproof’.

When the music heads down more conventional routes, ‘Stardust’ has a tendency to meld away like any standard Americana record. Yet when she lets herself into darker places, Bronwynne Brent demonstrates a fascinating song writing talent.


American Roots UK by Mike Morrison 

Bronwynne Brent- Stardust click to view here

Whilst there is a high degree of excellence to all of Bronwynne Brent’s unusual songs, I suspect that what will stay in the memory will be her vocals. They are actually reminiscent of no one that I can think of although qualitatively and distinctively are up there with Joni Mitchell, Buffy Sainte Marie, perhaps even Nina Simone or Billie Holiday and others who are instantly recognizable. She imbues a lovely, hugely dramatic attacking quality to her vocals on every track, irrespective of content, ensuring that an intensely dramatic set of songs are never allowed to falter. 
This is a beautifully constructed, arranged and played album of modern folk songs that lean towards dark country, but it is her often mesmeric voice that adds the extra quality to the tales, consequently lifting the album way above most of her peers, at times bringing an ethereal yet at the same time intense quality to many of the songs 

            The lineup for this excellent and unusual recording is Bronwynne on vocals and guitar, Calexico’s John Convertino on drums, Keith Lowe, bass, John Rauhaus plays steel guitar, banjo and dobro on some tracks, Dan Walker, keyboards, Johnny Sangster plays a variety of guitars as well as producing the album. All of the songs were written by Bronwynne and thematically could be said to be songs about relationships and yet that would be over simplifying this albums lyrical content that delves deeply into some of the clashes that happen in and around relationships, in many ways extending the subject matter way beyond simple tales of love found and love lost. They are not your average falling in or out of love stories but the twists of fate that surround those monumental events. 

            The album kicks off with The Mirror, with its lovely slow moody acoustic guitar getting things under way before Bronwynne’s mesmerizing vocal joins in on a song that suddenly takes off with the addition of drums, bass, Hammond and twangy guitar on a quirky tale of lost love. Don’t Tell Your Secrets To The Wind is a lovely shuffling song about someone who was long ago let down by a lover. The instrumentation and the chirpy vocal belie the sadness suffered by the subject but the instrumentation is incredibly well chosen with strings, guitars, mariachi horns and accordion deepening the atmosphere. Devil Again has a lovely banjo intro that is eventually joined by twangy chiming guitar on another beauty of a song that is lifted by Bronwynne’s incredibly atmospheric, emotional vocal on the tale of dire, if unheeded, warnings to a loved one. It is a darkly atmospheric song that in some ways can be tied in to the early recorded days of rural blues. Dark Highway is another song that evokes the early rural blues days but without overtly being a blues song. There is a quite harrowing feel to this slow moody tale of someone leaving a lover. Bronwynne seems able to put an incredible depth of feeling into the structure of the music, even ignoring the lyrics (not possible!) thanks to the perfect for purpose instrumentation blend that includes cello. OnAlready Gone we are treated to a gorgeous weeping steel guitar on a tale of the end of a love affair, with the solid repetitive bass giving a perfect foundation for the guitars and Hammond, thus ensuring a perfect melodicism that allows Bronwynne’s vocal to have its full impact on an emotional song. Final mention goes to the final song on the album, Marrying Kind. There is more gorgeous pedal steel guitar, this time allied to a twangy electric guitar on a song best described by its title. Generally, it includes country instrumentation on what is thematically a country song but the mix of instrumentation, Bronwynne’s vocal performance and her lyrics lifts what could on most other albums be a ‘simple country song’ to a level way above any standard generic field. A slow and moodily poetic tale to finish what is a quite stunning album.

            Were Bronwynne not such a good songwriter, her vocals alone should ensure a rewarding (for us as well as her!) future, but her poetic, deep, thoughtful songwriting is of such quality that even at this relatively early career stage it is easy to see that she is the complete ‘package.’