Review by Liam Oragh for "Musicians Together Magazine"

 

I normally start a review with a description of the front cover and how that initial visual impact then colours my perception of the music when I put it on. But Mick Brady’s ‘Small Town Trouble’ arrived with a bang in the post-box before all of that ritual – its cover completely smashed,  but most importantly – the CD still intact. (Note to Ed and to self – Always use bubble-wrap – cutbacks be damned!)

 

Funnily enough, that initial smashed appearance only added to the character of the thing – like a scar on the coolest bad-guy in the movie – my expectation was only raised!

 

Small Town Trouble – it sounded like the title of a good western – and that’s what this album turned out to be.  Mick’s face, chiselled and worn and full of character – he looked like a sidekick of Tony Sopranos or more likely – a henchman from an old John Ford western. The front cover had his back silhouetted John Wayne-like against his sitting room window curtains…and with the inside covers revealing deserted street scenes at night – I knew this was going to be a dark soundtrack to a dark  movie.

 

The other funny thing that happened with this review was that I ended up reading the lyrics long before I heard the music. The album came with a pull-out lyrics sheet (Note to self and everyone – Great Idea) which ended up in my notebook (minus the CD) over the Christmas break. And this was such a worthwhile introduction to Mick’s work as these were lyrics of substance that could stand on their own poetic feet – strong words and stories that really resonated with me. No more so than the first words in the first song and title track:

 

"This town’s got a whole lot of dirty little secrets

Hidden in the shadows, well out of sight

Untold stories, poisoned riches

Silent grief and restless nights"

 

So yes I knew I was in for a treat of a journey and yes this proved to be very Country-tinged music, almost reminiscent of Kris Kristofferson  –  but this was darker themed, but funnily enough, on this first track at least, brighter sounding than Kris while still retaining some of that grizzled character of the man himself, who also, funnily enough, likes to pop up in the odd good movie too…

 

The 2nd track ‘Six O’Clock Sun’ was almost blues-tinged with Mick reminding me in some ways of that other great Dublin character, musician and actor Don Baker, but with a title like that you are expecting an ‘Ok Corral’ or ‘Shane’ type showdown with the bad guys aren’t you…

 

"Shake the five o’clock shadow, take the six o’clock sun

Drinking nine o’clock tequilas, having ten o’clock fun

You’re like a drunk on a tightrope, you know you can’t fall

But you’ve gotta keep moving, ‘cos you’re dead if you stall"

 

The Man That I Used To Be’ deals the first big body blow. Again it’s the great lyrics and melody and the personal vulnerable nature of this beautiful ballad – I can imagine people queuing up to cover this one, myself included…

 

"Everyone tells me I’m doing just fine

But they don’t know nothing or they’re just being kind

‘Cos I’ve been faking it

Making it look like I’m someone I’m not

Since I can remember I’ve been playing a part

Never did nothing straight from my heart

Pretending so long, I don’t think I’d know how to stop"

 

Worth mentioning at this stage the quality of the production and the instrumentation and backing. Curiously, although Mick wrote and sings all the songs he doesn’t actually play an instrument on the album leaving most of that side of things in the capable hands of producer and multi-instrumentalist Peter Eades, whose electric guitar in particular adds just the right amount of edge and atmosphere when it’s needed in any of the tracks. And of course I must mention the fluid keyboard work of ace musician Paul Lynch.

 

‘Take It Where You Want To Take It’ – this is catchy tuneful, smooth and polished – captivating stuff. Same goes for ‘You gotta know when to run’ – you can tell just from the title of these things that they’re going to take you along nicely. I couldn’t shake the feeling, as I had previously with Brian Ahern, that some of these tunes are strong enough, that if they were picked up and covered by a major MOR country music star in the States, that fortunes could be made. That’s right my MT friends, some of us are sitting on musical gold mines that just need to be discovered…

 

Mick is at his best on the album highlight for me, "Men In Black", where he’s sinking his teeth into a subject he has a close feel for – in this case his repressive Catholic upbringing which will really resonate with other Irish artists who have also had to break free from it.

"Holy Holy men in black, doing all they could to hold you back

And they told you these were the best days of your life

They got you young, they got you good

Worked their way inside your skull

And got their hooks in

And they hooked you up good and tight"

 

This is followed by Mick treating us to what I can describe as an real Dublin-folk tinged song ‘I Remember The Rare ‘Aul Times’ – this feels personal – it’s like he’s writing about his own life and people he’s met in it – and it’s more authentic because of that. Having spent many years in Dublin this one resonated with me – but it could be any city…it’s so vivid you can picture it – the arguing couple waking you up at night – the street-seller flogging apples from a baby’s pram.

 

This is followed by another powerful ballad, ‘Me And You’, almost sounding like a collaboration between Shane McGowan and Nick Cave, with piano, hints of harmonica, and darkly voiced – this is probably his best singing and the arrangements are spot on.

Mick strikes me on this album as being an artist who wants to move on but is still rooted in his past; he’s inspired by his memories but there’s a restlessness to him that makes him interesting and worth listening to. I’m glad to have had a chance to live in his world for a while…

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 Hot Press   Oct 2011

 

Review by Edwin McFee

Small Town Trouble

Brady’s Latest Offering Is Another Understated Gem

 

Boasting a voice reminiscent of Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler, Mick Brady’s latest effort Small Town Trouble tells tales of romance, religion and real life.

 

It’s a record that is at its best when it’s at its most truthful (Men In Black). Throughout this nine-song folksy, country-tinged LP, the songwriter’s refusal to over-complicate things with needless embellishments or over-enthusiastic musical flourishes helps make the likes of Six O’Clock Sun and Me And You sound all the more potent.

 

In this case less really is more.

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Review by Quico Reed for Songramp

 

"I've gotten a little addicted to Small Town Trouble...it sure makes great driving music and the sound is spectacular in my opinion.  Comparing this to other bands may not do the album justice, but it reminded me of bands like Dire Straits and the Kinks.  However, this album stands totally on its own.

 

I think I'm most impressed with the depth of the lyrics.  Musically, it's all so darn listenable.  I've grown accustomed to most accessible music having shallow lyrics, but Mick Brady manages to slip an unexpected twist into most of his songs.  These twists give the songs an intellectual depth that surprises me every time I catch it.

 

The other thing that occured to me is that I've listened to many albums by top bands where only one or two songs were any good.  By contrast, this whole darn album is good. THAT says a LOT".

 

 

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Review by Alec Cunningham for "Review You"

 

Mick Brady takes listeners back to the sounds of the late 20th century with his fourth solo release, Small Town Trouble.  His lyrics are painted with romantic anguish and societal disaffection and he finds a way to tell a detailed story within each of his songs.

Brady does well to notice the “untold stories” of the people around him and to effectively transform those perceptions into the song lyrics of both the opening track, “Small Town Trouble”, and the album as a whole.

 

Being from Dublin, Ireland, his roots shine through not only in his voice, but also in his lyrics. “Men In Black” and “I Remember The Rare ‘Aul Times,” specifically, display his roots and the events that have transpired throughout his life. Brady sings about the Catholic school that he attended as a kid in “Men In Black.”  The weekdays were filled with oppressive rules, but the dances on Friday nights made everything else bearable. Brady sings:

 

“A slow dance was true romance

Made you feel that you had a chance

And made you forget everything that you’d been told.”

 

 “I Remember The Rare “Aul Times” is a ballad that will keep you listening until the very end.  In each verse, Brady tells the separate stories of Danny, Maggie Blue, and Bella who all struggled to get by from day to day. Though the story is gloomy, the song’s melody hints at a hopeful conclusion. Brady introspectively notes:

 

"They got nothing, but they still believed.”

 

Dreamers and Believers” is the perfect anthem for the late night crowd at any small town pub.  Its fast tempo piano melody and the country twang of the guitar make you want to immediately start humming along to the melody and snapping your fingers to the beat. The song is about the feeling of being a social outsider and trying to find a place where you belong.

 

Small Town Trouble will reel you in from the very beginning and, by the second listen, you’re sure to be singing right along with Brady and his loveably gruff Irish accent. From soft, poignant rock ballads to peppy rock tunes and twangy country melodies, this album has it all.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

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Review by 'Rebel' Rod Ames for "From Under The Basement"

 

Mick Brady's self-released "Small Town Trouble" truly has the potential to bridge genres and generations

 

Until recently, the name Mick Brady meant absolutely nothing to me. I had never heard the name and sadly, had never heard his incredible music.

 

I have never met Mick face to face, but after listening to his songs, and reading about what they mean to him, I would like to. I know I’d like him.

 

The name of the record is "Small Town Trouble", named for the first track on the album. As he puts it, "The song is about the narrow-mindedness and pressure to conform that is found in many communities".  It is a tune regarding how appealing and typical things look superficially. However, if you look a little closer one begins to see that what appears to be so average at the surface can be, in reality, tragically ugly. How many of us as an individual have put on a façade? Someone asks how we are doing. “Fine”, we reply. When in reality we are being ripped to shreds internally. This tune speaks of that but is downright poetic about it.

 

Every song on the LP is deeply personal to Mr. Brady and based on something that touched him at some point in his life. As a result, when you hear his words coming from his simple yet soothing voice, you feel it.

 

Listen carefully and you’ll be taken on somewhat of a journey through the artist’s life. Whether it is about an interview he heard on the radio (the title track,” Small Town Trouble”) or a tune about friends of his parents that he grew up around, discovering they weren’t just quirky, but mentally ill and all but forgotten about by the ones that were supposed to care about them. At least that was the promise (“I Remember The Rare 'Aul Times”).

 

The stories he tells paint a vivid picture in your mind that will remain there for a long time, leaving you with the feeling that you truly know the artist. He shares his experiences, his feelings about certain events, his weaknesses, his strengths, and ultimately his hope with us.

 

Peter Eades eloquently produced the album as well as playing the drums, bass, guitars, mandolin, banjo, keyboards, and harmonica, a very busy fellow indeed. His fingerprints can literally be found all over the album.

 

Of course, Mick Brady sings on the record and is backed up on vocals by Philip Gargan. In addition, Paul Lynch plays keyboards on a couple tracks as well.

 

Overall, this is a delightful record that will be enjoyed across many genres and generations. What I mean is that I could play a track or two on my eclectic radio show and believe most of my listeners would love it. However, I could also play it for my 80 something parents and their friends, who would equally enjoy it [the record]. It truly has the potential to bridge genres and generations.

 

"Small Town Trouble" is self-released and is available now. It can be purchased by going to Mick Brady's website.

 

‘Rebel’ Rod says check it out.

 

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Niall Toner (RTE Radio) on Track 3, "The Man That I Used To Be"

 

"Wonderful song, an absolute little masterpiece.  I hope it moves you the way it moved me"

July 2011

"I often think that the sign of a good song is that you can hear something in it that you can identify with and I guess there's a piece of us all in this wonderful song"

 August 2011

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QuicoReed (Songramp) on "The Man That I Used To Be"

 

"There is some awesome shizzle here.  What an amazing lyric, and I'm not easily impressed with lyrics, but this is absolutely top notch and musically it's phenomenal"

 

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Sworn Red (Soundcloud) on Track 4 "Take It Where You Want To Take It"

 

"Just a rock solid rock, no need for fancy magic, just guitars, drums, bass, vocals and brilliant lyrics, exactly what it needs to be"

 

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