REVIEWS

This Mississippi born singer songwriter released his debut album in 2008 and has played/travelled extensively both in America and abroad for a number of years. This is his second full length release and was recorded in Memphis using a group of local studio musicians.

The fourteen songs clock in at just shy of the hour mark, so concentrated listening is required. His storytelling folk style is the result of many experiences in honing the craft of a true raconteur.

John Prine and Townes are reference points here with songs of reminiscence Dancin’ in Memphis; relationship breakups, Who Told You I Was Down?; corrupt police, Moanin’ Santa Rosa Jail Blues and a wonderfully witty autobiographical novella in Dogrunner (Craigslist Ad). Inspired stuff.

JJ Cale is never far away as a reference point and the easy acoustic playing style runs through this collection like a light summer breeze. An engaging release and one that comes highly recommended.

---Paul McGee, Lonesome Highway, November 2, 2014

Somewhere along the Delta region of Mississippi today, there’s a singer on the back porch who is simply strumming their guitar to the sound of their latest composition. Gann Brewer is one such artist. There’s a laid back and inviting feel to this album that reminds you of such an afternoon in the south. ‘Dancin’ In Memphis,” where the title of the album comes from, offers proof of this. It’s simply modern day Folk Music – something Brewer undoubtedly has a knack for.

As a writer, he possesses a keen sense of wit. If you need proof, take a listen to the hilarious “Dogrunner (Craiglist Ad),” maybe the only song that namechecks both Boxcar Willie and The Beatles. Other standout cuts that show Brewer’s mettle as a tunesmith include “She’s Good To Me” and the murky “Sidewalk Slim.”

At the end of the day, what Gann Brewer is – and what he does best – is a storyteller. Take a listen to “Moanin’ Santa Rosa Jail Blues,” a cut that will definitely make you think “old school.” And, he does it very well!

---Chuck Dauphin, Music News Nashville, August 3, 2014

Mississippi born, singer-songwriter Gann Brewer is, indeed another in a line of American everyman folk singers inspired by the likes of Woody Guthrie, John Prine and Hank Williams. What makes Brewer stand out, however, is his tenor vocals, sense of humor and almost all too honest lyrics. Peddlers & Ghosts is his second full-length studio album.

On this 14-track release Brewer takes the lead on lead vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica. He is, however, occasionally assisted by other artists including Memphis-based studio musicians Richard Ford (pedal steel guitar), David Michael Lee (keyboards and bass guitar), LaHonda, California's Lisa Kelly (mandolin) and engineer Jeremiah Tucker (shakers).

The album opener is “Dancin’ In Memphis." Whether it is a simple tribute to the town in which the disc was recorded or more of a coincidental reflection is not known. In truth, it doesn’t matter. What matters is it works as an intro to what the man can do as a singer-songwriter.

The second selection is “Who Told You I’z Down?” This is one of the many songs Brewer more-or-less composed while touring. Inspired by the likes of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, he takes advantage of the time he spends crossing the country and seemingly uses the silence of being a lone traveler to come up with his tuneful tales.

The next number is “Miss Smoky Mountain.” This is perhaps one of those songs one would expect to hear form an artist in this genre. While its inclusion is no surprise, however, it is very clear upon listening that this is his song and he owns it.“Dogrunner (Craigslist Ad)” is a downright “cheat”. It really is a Craigslist Ad that Brewer had posted to garner dog-walking jobs while in New York City. He freely admits: “I also taught a bit of guitar and one day I decided to make an ad for both things . . . then one day, I started playing a simple pattern with the ad, just as it read, for that reason, nothing at all rhymes in the song, but it makes people smile.” It is funny to think that he is literally being paid to advertise his services and serves as a knowing wink to all those indie artists whose first few CDs serve primarily as demos. It also proves inspiration comes from the most unusual places.

“Matter With Me” follows. This is perhaps overshadowed by the previous piece but further demonstrates Brewer’s intentions to present somewhat simple, honest songs that have their own identity and yet fit into the overall ‘written on the road/slice of life” feel of the album. It’s an early favorite of online critics.

The sixth song is “She's Good To Me.” This is pretty much a prerequisite for any single artist. Still, with Brewer’s classic folk presentation listeners would be disappointed not to hear it. It’s all too quickly followed by his cover of a Meredith Hinshaw-Ryan Chaney composition titled “Bad, Bad Tennessee.” Again, one would be disappointed if it was not included as Brewer injects it with his own brand of world-wear traveler’s soul-bearing pain.

“Coldwater River Risin’” is perhaps one of the songs that inspired the CD’s title. It just has that “swamp ghost” backwoods feel to it. “A Juneau Pipedream” while still of that “written on the road” takes us off in a new direction and reminds us again of the places Brewer has gone as a traveling troubadour. Also included here is “Throwin’ Stones” which while overlooked by some critics is still noteworthy as another example of Brewer’s signature sound.

“Sidewalk Slim” is one of the best tracks on the album. It’s a tribute to homeless folks. If you’re following in the footsteps of guys like Guthrie then again without it the work would be incomplete. Rather than ignore this fact, Brewer embraces it.

“Moanin' Santa Rosa Jail Blues” is another “well-maybe-now-it’s-funny” kinda cuts. It’s another original songstory that serves as an effective musical apology to the true owner of the car he was driving when he ran astray of the law. One wonders how many times he had to perform this song to “pay” for it.

“You Make Me Fly” is an expected but nonetheless exceptional subtle song. It fits well following the previous tuneful tale of tribulation. “Leaving It All Behind” is the aptly placed closing cut. This is his version of a song written by Joe Stephenson as well as an early fan favorite.

This album is an honest, back porch set in which Brewer shares in song the ups, downs and interesting insights to touring. Check out Gann Brewer’s Peddlers & Ghosts and you just might find yourself taking a tuneful turn and happily “Leaving It All Behind.” --Phoenix

 

---The Examiner, Los Angeles, July 28, 2014

 

So much world-weary experience and folksy story telling capabilities and you would think it would have come from one of the veteran singer-songwriters out there. Surprisingly “Peddlers & Ghosts” is only the second CD from Mississippi born Gann Brewer, who not only already seems to have a full lifetime of stories to craft songs around, but knows how to convey his stories in incredibly honest fashion. You can think anyone from Woody Guthrie to Townes Van Zandt to Hank Sr. when you hear Gann’s emotions pouring forth; from the tongue-in-cheek humor of “Dogrunner” to the soul-bearing pain of “Bad, Bad Tennessee” and the subtle uplifting joy of “You Make Me Fly.” This is simple music, too, with acoustic guitar and a few other musical embellishments that help enhance the songs, but allow Gann’s hauntingly nuanced vocal intensity and heart-touching stories shine through. When I compared him to the likes of Guthrie, Van Zandt and Williams Sr, I was not being hyperbolic in the least. To be compared to those legends, you have to have something special in my book, and Gann definitely has that. Singer-Songwriter is such an overused and often glutted and misunderstood genre, but Gann shows what the purest form of singer-songwriters are capable of in wonderful fashion that can make you laugh, cry, or just sit and nod in pathos appreciation at various times. – MW

---Music Morsels Reviews, Canton, Georgia, May 22, 2014

(English translation from Dutch forthcoming) In de never ending reeks American singer-songwriters presenteren we Gann Brewer. Geboren in Mississippi, na het bereiken van de jaren des onderscheids twintig jaar over de hele wereld gezworven en nu min of meer werkend vanuit Memphis, Tennessee. Zijn eerste CD, ‘Gann Brewer’ verscheen in 2008 en nu, vijf jaar later is nummer twee gereed. En ik moet zeggen: Gann bevalt me zeer. Niet omdat hij baanbrekend werk verricht, wel omdat hij lekkere songs schrijft, wel omdat hij een lekkere stem heeft, wel omdat hij eenvoud aanhangt. Eenvoud met name in de begeleiding, waar naast zijn eigen akoestische gitaar en (sporadisch) mondharmonica vooral de mandoline van Lisa Kelly (uit Californië) opvalt en waar soms David Michael Lee te horen is op keyboards en – ook zeer soms – Richard Ford op pedal steel en opnameman Jeremiah Tucker op shakers. Als grote voorbeelden noemt Gann naast Ramblin’ Jack Elliott en Woody Guthrie ook John Prine, Gene Clark, Mississippi John Hurt en Hank Williams. En vooral de eerstgenoemde twee zijn hoorbaar van grote invloed geweest.

Weer een subtiele folkie hoor ik jullie al zuchten. Jawel, weer een subtiele folkie. Maar zijn liedjes zijn prima, zijn verhalen interessant, zijn muzikale invulling intens subtiel. Hij doet mij het meest denken aan die jonge goser uit Austin, Jim Keaveny, die in hetzelfde heldere water vist. Gave muziek, en ook nog eens bijna een uur lang. Van de veertien liedjes schreef Gann er overigens twaalf. Voor de liefhebbers van goede folksingers. (Independent)

---Real Roots Cafe, Holland, June 2014

Occasional swells of organ, mandolin and pedal steel color the atmosphere of this Mississippi–raised troubadour’s latest album. Otherwise, he keeps it conversationally simple: acoustic guitar, harmonica, and his flannel-warm baritone spinning earthy stories studded with road signs and characters from his travels, whether he’s reciting a New York Craigslist ad (“Dogrunner”), pledging devotion to a lover (“A Juneau Pipedream”), depicting a train-hopping hobo (“Sidewalk Slim”) or warning other footloose travelers (“Moanin’ Santa Rosa Jail Blues”). Recommended for Woody Guthrie and Todd Snider fans. At the Echo in Echo Park Sunday

---Pasadena Weekly May 2014

Recorded in Memphis, Tennessee, Peddlers & Ghosts has all the warmth and genuine appeal of a live performance. And that's probably exactly what Gann Brewer was striving for when he recorded this album. Brewer has been playing all over the world over the past couple of years meeting folks and making connections with his friendly folk music. His influences include John Prine, Mississippi John Hurt, Woody Guthrie, and Hank Williams...so if you're into these artists there's a very good chance you will appreciate this album. These songs are presented simply without a lot of unnecessary ingredients muddying the mix. Backing Gann are Richard Ford (pedal steel), David Michael Lee (keyboards, bass guitar), and Lisa Kelly (mandolin). At a point in time when technology perfects everything to pieces, this album comes across like a nice fresh splash of water from a mountain stream. Cool compositions include "Dancin' in Memphis," "Matter With Me," "Sidewalk Slim," and "Leaving It All Behind."

---babysue  May 2014

A road warrior with over 20 years under his belt, this rambling folkie has recorded infrequently over the years and when he does, the inevitable comparisons to Prine/Clark/Van Zandt et al are going to be flying. This back porch set invites those comparisons in spades, but they should only be taken as a point of reference as, like those masters, he's got his own point of view and bottle of special sauce that makes everything his own. You dig that unique, off beat folkie perspective? This set is a great place to find it. Well done.

---Midwest Record  April 2014

Brewer is sort of in the mold of John Prine, that style between talking and singing while spinning yarns about the uncommon common folk with a wry sense of humor and great respect for real people. He is not nearly as deep down dark as Leonard Cohen, but he does slip in a line here and there that puts me in mind of the old Canadian singer/songwriter. 

--- Nightflying Magazine, Little Rock, AR  August, 2008

His performance is part anecdote, part stand-up comedy, sing-along and folk concert all in one.... each show seems to include a gruff version of a forgotten chapter in American folk history, the tall tales and legends turned song... his ability to thread these old songs and anecdotal narratives into a fun and rockin' show seems to come naturally. 

--- St. John Tradewinds (Virgin Islands)  December, 2004