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The best kept secret in music

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Bosque Brown

Baby
[Burnt Toast Vinyl; 2009]
by Jspicer



Styles: folk, alt-country, gospel, soul
Others: Gillian Welch, Emily Jane White, Zooey Deschanel


Tweet With her debut LP, 2005's Bosque Brown Plays Mara Lee Miller, Mara Lee Miller introduced us to every aspect of her adopted Denton, Texas persona. We were fooled into thinking what a lost treasure Mara Lee Miller must have been, as we fell under the lovely spell of Bosque Brown's country-tinged dirges of love, loss, and faith -- all under the guise that the latter was covering the music of the former. Bosque Brown and Mara Lee Miller turned out to be one; yet no matter how linked the personas, the personalities of both were separated into two but equal entities. Which song was Mara Lee Miller and which song was Bosque Brown -- that is to say, which was the performer and which was a part of the everyday person -- became a guessing game with each passing listen.

Now four years later, Miller has delivered a new variation of the game with Baby. There's no mistaking that Baby is all Bosque Brown. It's powerful and unrestrained, an album free to flow like the river that gives Miller her pseudonym. Yet, there are still hints of the woman behind the mask. Baby, for its fuller, richer sound, is just as shy and tender as Miller's first full-length foray. The pronounced difference is confidence, and the willingness to believe in herself translates to a stronger album -- not reliant on Miller's past heroes, but on the inspiration she draws from her daily life.

You needn't look further than the pictures that grace Baby's cardboard casing. Images of lifeless highways, fruitful ditches, lazy horses, and piercing mountains play up the notion of Miller as the road-weary veteran of hard livin' and harder choices. Nothing backs up these projections quite like "Went Walking." It speaks of a life lived on foot, whether it be the walk with family, with a wedding party, with throngs of cityfolk, or with oneself. The scenario is repeated through "Whiskey Flats" and "This Town." Miller captures her view and gives it to us, letting us see the world through her eyes.

It's the delivery of these visions, however, that takes the work of Mara Lee Miller to the next level, transforming Baby from handwritten love letter into breathtaking cinematic fare. Unlike her hushed debut, Miller digs deep into her soul to find the voice of Bosque Brown. It isn't solemn or desperate as her debut would have had us believe; it's one of hope and a fair bit of pomp. Rather than deliver an album's worth of Northeastern Texas hell, Miller lets go of her inhibitions, draping her hymns with life-affirming soul, gospel, and folk -- like Woody Guthrie singing the troubles of the Dust Bowl or Pete Seeger sounding the injustices of the Civil Rights Movement. Baby shows us that four years was just enough time for Miller to reconcile her modesty with her desire to showcase her love of all musics. - Tiny Mix Tapes


Texas dove Bosque Brown (a.k.a. Mara Lee Miller) has a voice that can only be compared to the comfort that one finds in a pillow. Mara Lee Miller ‘s voice is as soft as the flowing river that Bosque Brown is named after. However, this is not the sort of soft that we are all used to, but a pure southern, raspy softness, which is nothing short of beautiful.
Four years after their first record, Bosque Brown has released its second album, Baby. Having lived in Texas my whole life, I know oil when I see it, and after listening to all thirteen tracks of Baby, I know I have struck it. With a voice like that of Norah Jones (and what sounds like a female version of Thom Yorke), Mara Lee Miller paints such beautiful pictures with her singing.

The songs, “On and Off (part I)”, “On and Off (part II)” and “On and Off (part III)” are testaments to how versatile and elegantly she can use her voice with no help from background music. The first track, “White Dove” is a beautiful song about rising up and shedding the little things.

Not only is the singing a masterpiece, but the lyrics in the song are just as immaculate. This holds true for all of the songs that Bosque Brown has on Baby. - Pop Wreckoning


Texas dove Bosque Brown (a.k.a. Mara Lee Miller) has a voice that can only be compared to the comfort that one finds in a pillow. Mara Lee Miller ‘s voice is as soft as the flowing river that Bosque Brown is named after. However, this is not the sort of soft that we are all used to, but a pure southern, raspy softness, which is nothing short of beautiful.
Four years after their first record, Bosque Brown has released its second album, Baby. Having lived in Texas my whole life, I know oil when I see it, and after listening to all thirteen tracks of Baby, I know I have struck it. With a voice like that of Norah Jones (and what sounds like a female version of Thom Yorke), Mara Lee Miller paints such beautiful pictures with her singing.

The songs, “On and Off (part I)”, “On and Off (part II)” and “On and Off (part III)” are testaments to how versatile and elegantly she can use her voice with no help from background music. The first track, “White Dove” is a beautiful song about rising up and shedding the little things.

Not only is the singing a masterpiece, but the lyrics in the song are just as immaculate. This holds true for all of the songs that Bosque Brown has on Baby. - Pop Wreckoning


Discography

2005- ...plays Mara Lee Miller (Burnt Toast Vinyl US)
2006- Cerro Verde one-sided LP (Burnt Toast Vinyl US)
2009- Baby (Burnt Toast Vinyl US / Fargo Europe)

2010- West Country Night Session One also featuring Josh T. Pearson, H-Burns, Thousand, and Tom Cooney (Europe only via Rough Trade)

New album, titled Us, coming early 2014!

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

We’d like to introduce you to Bosque Brown, a band from Texas who are fronted by Mara Lee Miller, a female singer songwriter whose haunting winsome vocals have been compared to the likes of Cat Power and Joanna Newsome.

For the past 15 months, Bosque Brown has been quietly working on their sophomore full-length with producer Chris Flemmons (Baptist Generals). A dramatic step forward from their debut, Plays Mara Lee Miller, Baby features a fuller sound and more expansive instrumentation. This rich musicianship reflects Bosque Brown’s increasing stature as a live band. Whereas Plays Mara Lee Miller was recorded in just a few days, the group took their time with Baby so that they could find the perfect sounds -- adding things in, taking things away, they allowed the songs to grow under Flemmons' watchful guidance.

Baby's chief strength lies in the vocals. Principal songwriter Mara Lee Miller's voice is frequently doubled with her sister Gina's, allowing for a richer, more textured sound. Drummer Winston Chapman and Flemmons, himself a longtime drummer, experimented with prepared drums, mic placements and various recording techniques to colour the percussion. A cluster of a cappella tracks, treated with heavily-layered vocals and echoing reverberation, borrow from the sacred harp tradition and are arranged to break the record into four segments. Lush, soaring keyboards, organs and pedal steel blend with varying rhythms.

In her often personal lyrics, Miller reflects on her small-town Texas upbringing, coming to terms with her history. On "Oh River", references to old-time hymns mix with the imagery of a dark, cold, flowing river -- perhaps a subtle reference to Texas' Bosque River, for which the group is named. "White Dove" and "Soft Love" bookend Baby, opening the record with a sense of dark desperation and then gradually finding hope in love.

Burnt Toast Vinyl (Bosque Brown’s U.S. label) discovered Miller through folk singer Damien Jurado, who had met Miller on tour. At the time, Jurado was acting as a bit of an A&R rep, funnelling prospective acts and demos to the label. The band's live shows quickly captivated music fans in the Dallas/Denton/Ft. Worth area, owing largely to Miller's striking stage presence.

Their debut was released in 2005 and Plays Mara Lee Miller found its way onto many ‘Top 10 of 2005’ lists and was named the top release of 2005 by the Dallas Observer. A four song ep, Cerro Verde, was recorded in 2006 and released as a one-sided vinyl LP with an accompanying cd, it was a stripped-down effort, chronicling Miller's family experiences in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The track "Fire Fight" was featured on the soundtrack to the independent film ‘Jumping Off Bridges’, which debuted at 2007's SXSW film festival.

Bosque Brown have headlined their own shows and have played alongside such luminaries as Two Gallants, John Vanderslice, the Baptist Generals, Bobby Bare Jr., Damien Jurado, Jolie Holland,and The National.