By ELI JACE >
Uncle Brother’s debut album, Jonesin’, is a set of gorgeous songs in the traditional folk realm, but with a warm sheen that’ll make the body go numb.
Uncle Brother is Patrick Maguire, songwriter and guitarist, with an assist from a few friends. Jonesin’ was recorded and self-released at the end of 2018 and is available on iTunes. It is the first release off Maguire’s own Patty Mac label.
The nine ditties on Jonesin’ explore the journey of love, the pitfalls and upshots, and culminates with the beautiful, “Clayer.” The tale begins with “Brothers.” Maguire sings about the pure joy of being in the company of friends, his voice dusty with gratitude and yearning for long-gone moments. His tender acoustic tone slides across the soundplain like day’s last light.
The walking blues number, “Why Must You Cheat Me,” erupts midway with a sore guitar solo pulled straight out of the swamp.
“Song for Richard” finds Maguire singing around a plodding, uneven piano while Stacy Dillard gives the song harmonious lift with soprano horn. “Louisiana Lady” is a cute brisk song on the anticipation of courtship. On “All My Love” Maguire makes a plea for the strengthening of a trampled relationship. It’s slow and sleepy and leads into a tangle of guitars featuring Michael Louis Smith. Inner reverb drips from every note.
Maguire’s voice is gruff and sweet at the same time.
Uncle Brother most closely recalls Neil Young with his simplicity and all out lunge for the song’s emotional center. The two best tracks on Jonesin’ are “Barren” and the instrumental “Clayer.” More than any other songs these two show where Maguire could go, crafting tranquil dialogue with the guitar. He has a way of leaning into the notes, letting them ring out and settle.
The haunting “Barren” is a bitter account of farmlife during natural devastation. Hope hinges on Maguire’s bruised falsetto. You can feel a storm’s humidity between notes. “Clayer” has no words because the playing speaks. An acoustic rhythm is intricately weaved with aching electric accompaniment.
The mood totally flips with the last song, “Whiskey Dick,” a rousing drunkabout singalong.
It’s a fun song, something to lift the beer mug in the air to. “This whiskey dick made my night go downhill really quick,” Macguire sings haplessly. It’s like a lost blink-182 song from a real dude ranch at a Nebraska hoedown.
Jonesin’ is a delicate introduction to a developing songwriter and gives an impression that Maguire is only scratching at the surface of the music world he’s entering. Maguire lives in New York City and also plays in the jamhouse collective, Brawlik, who’s self-titled debut was released earlier this month. Uncle Brother plays the Radio Bean in Burlington, Vermont June 1. Brawlik plays the Discover Jazz Fest in Burlington May 31.
Read Eli Jace’s interview with Rock & Roll author Christopher McKittrick.
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