Brian Houston
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Brian Houston

Raleigh, North Carolina, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Raleigh, North Carolina, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Shelter Review"

The irrepressible Brian Houston encapsulates the spirit that makes independent music so important. Never releasing the same album twice, his music is as surprising as it is honest and joyful.

From its opening gospel moans, brass stabs and Houston insisting with attitude, “Come on my soul, it’s time to do what you’re told – it’s time to rejoice!” you just know that this is yet another direction, and his most exciting.

He has a deft way with words and a keen sense of observation, but - like Dylan on Saved - he has thrown most of that to one side for this release and has simply let his heart explode with joy. It’s nearly all celebrations and praise, with the odd psalm-like piece thrown in. Think Mike Farris coming from Belfast.

The loudest songs are the best, whether full-blown gospel belters like “Come on my Soul” and “Plant Your Seed,” the stompalong of “Five Dollars” or the dirty blues guitar of “Lord, Pity the Fool.”

For some tracks - again, like Dylan - he has the McCrary sisters on backing vocals and this makes for an unusual sound.
It’s gospel, but not quite as you know it. His Irish accent means that on “Shout” we hear “I’m gonna shote, shote/ tell the horl wide world what I’m talkin’ abote”. Similarly, “Prices Go Up” has this backing, but set to a perky pop piece. It’s not standard Nashville fare, but it’s all the more original and authentic for it.
Occasionally, he does slow it down, such as on “The Voice of God,” where he brings out his Roy Orbison side and that Marmite falsetto, but even here, he has a strong melody and words that reach the heart: “When you look twice at your neighbour’s wife /and something whispers, ‘Too high a price’ /That’s the voice of God… When you feel as if you can’t go on /And someone says, ‘When you’re weak I’m strong’ / That’s the voice of God”.
The album closes with the title track, which has so much going for it that it seems to be two great tracks all intertwined. It is especially here that he does things with his voice that he may never have tried on record before. It’s so adrenalising that it just has to go on repeat.
Producer Tre Sheppard has brought way to the front a resonant, surfy, Spaghetti Western guitar sound that Houston has previously used, but which has been tucked away underneath other things. That mix has a lot to do with the fullness of sound here.
Don’t be fooled by any apparent similarities to his Gospel Road album because of that title. That was Johnny-Cash-meets-doo-wap fare. This is thicker, richer, fuller and seven times more exuberant; a different type of gospel altogether. It may even surpass his very different previous best, Sugar Queen. Play loud.
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 - Phantom Tollbooth

"Shelter Review"

I guess every time I have listened to a new Brian Houston record I have been blown away by the man's talent. Shelter ups my respect yet again. One great thing you can say about an album from someone releasing them for years is that it sounds nothing like anything he has released before. Having said that what Houston has done has been to bring lashings of everything he has done in the past and thrown them all into the pot. Then he has added new things like James Brown soul and Black Gospel backing vocals and Rolling Stones guitar riffs. None of these should surprise the fan who has followed his journey from rock to pop to worship to singer songwriter but they bring a new intensity and focus. What the pot cooks up is Houston;s most exuberant and exhilarating record to date.

Even the Christian angle is a new one. Houston was the boy who exorcised his demons in the Belfast bars on a Saturday night, doing Springsteen leaps across beer filled tables, before leading the congregation in worship on a Sunday morning. We have watched the midnight caresses and collisions of these two genres come together in his worship albums like Jesus and Justice or Gospel Road. The latter of those would indeed be the fore runner to Shelter but was a gentler gospel sound. This one is rocked up to the limit with guitar playing to die for.
In the world of pigeon holes this one is hard to pitch in contemporary terms. The Rolling Stones 'Exile on Main Street' comes to mind but Shelter is far more focused and precise. It is as close to the Alabama Shakes as I have heard but much more up front Gospel. It is clearly coming with a Christian emphasis but is too artistically powerful in lyric and sound to be worship and not so much for congregational singing. Then he throws a wee bit of Tom Waits through a megaphone in and it's all off in another direction. Too dirty and rough and edgy for the American Bible Book Stores! What Houston's mix of Saturday and Sunday worlds has always given his work is an earthiness to the theology of his lyrics. Too much modern Christian stuff sits in the sanitised sanctified sanctuary with no doors open to the dirt and hurt and bloody stains of the streets around about it.

Houston is not afraid of declaring a very committed belief in God as Lord and in charge but these songs are all coming from a man who has worked and toiled through the week, keeping five dollars on his dash board for the needy. He has wept all the way through to Sunday and needs Shelter. This is the work of a man off the street with his guitar turned to ten, who needs to wail to his Lord for some sense of perspective on all that he has seen and experienced from a week in the real world. Brilliant! - Stocky

"Sugar Queen"

Like Weller and Townshend, Houston is a born rock star, a gifted writer and a man who, to his peers, exists on that rarefied plane where surname is enough. A Springsteen-esque live sensation in mid 90's Belfast, Duke Special and Snow Patrol's Jonny Quinn served apprenticeships in his band. Deals were done but somehow that trajectory to the wider world did not happen, yet he was out there grafting around America as a solo performer and surviving life's slings and arrows. His time has surely now come.

Sequenced by 'Whispering' Bob Harris, with Robbie McIntosh on electric guitar, Sugar Queen is bristling with hope, joy and love - and fabulous songs: 'These Days' is an ocean of bliss surfing on a Zeppelin-at-Bron-Yr-Aur riff, 'Childish Things' is the best song Van Morrison never wrote, and 'Someday' is a US country smash in waiting.

Colin Harper - Mojo


There is something wonderfully familiar and comfortable about this album. By familiar I don’t mean un-original. Not in the least! Each song is a well made beauty, a remarkable little number that stands on its own. It’s the feeling of the work that brings to me some warm wind of remembrance. - Paste Magazine

"One of Britain’s great song writers!"

It was thirty seconds in when I realized what a really special piece of music this was….one of Britain’s great song writers! - Bob Harris BBC Radio 2


  • Crush (1994)
  • Sex, Love & Religion (1995)
  • Good News Junkie (1997)
  • In The Words Of Dr Luke (1998)
  • 35 Summers (1999)
  • Big Smile (2000)
  • Mea Culpa (2001)
  • Roller Coaster (2002)
  • The Valley (2003)
  • Thirteen Days In August (2004)
  • Jesus And Justice (2005)
  • Sugar Queen (2006)
  • Content Not Volume (2007)
  • Three Feet From Gold (2008)
  • Gospel Road (2009)
  • The Raw Sessions (2010)
  • Joy To The World (2010)
  • The Rehearsal Tapes (2011)
  • Shelter (2012)
  • Mercy: Jesus Don't Forget My Name (2013)
  • Bring It On (2014)
  • Carolina (2015)



"If Ron Sexsmith and Elvis had a baby; gave it to bob Dylan to raise but hired Van Morrison as a nanny they’d call it Brian Houston"…Drew Marshall DJ

The irrepressible Brian Houston encapsulates the spirit that makes independent music so important. Never releasing the same style of album twice, his music is as surprising as it is honest and joyful. Houston exhibits a prolific ability to turn out truly infectious songs that demand to be played over and over again. Brian is a respected writer and performer. Being hailed as “one of Britain’s great songwriters!” by veteran DJ Bob Harris. 

Concentrating on making the music and releasing it to the public has paid off. His success in achieving national radio airplay (BBC Radio 2 Bob Harris, Janice Long, Aled Jones) live sessions and interviews whilst remaining an independent artist is a testimony not only to the strength of his tunes but also to his likability and determination as a person.

Recording most of his material in a home studio and gigging to support it, shows a hard working individual indeed. One of his self penned tracks (recorded literally in his bedroom) was released by Warner brothers on an album featuring The Staples Singers, Elvis Presley and Whitney Houston!

Following the heavy rotation of his songs on radio last year, Houston has rented the prestigious Grand Opera House in Belfast and sold it out twice!!!

 Renowned for playing up to as many as three and a half hours, Houston is a gifted and charismatic showman who leaves his audience baying for more.

 The depth and quality of his work are added bonuses for those who stumble upon him in bar or club. Perhaps that’s why he was one of only four artists hand picked to perform at Her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee Party in Stormont Parliament Buildings Belfast and as second on the bill to Mr Van Morrison at the prestigious East Belfast Arts Festival!

 Whether opening for big names such as Chuck Berry, Chris Tomlin, Elvis Costello, Michael W Smith, Van Morrison, Third Day, Robert Plant or headlining his own show. Brian Houston is doing what musicians were born to do, making authentic music and giving everything on stage

With a stamina and pedigree developed across the world from bars to arenas to Gospel Hall gatherings, Houston brings a refreshing and inspiring approach to songwriting that will leave you wanting more. 

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