Brian Sharpe
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Brian Sharpe

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The best singer/songwriters have the ability to transport listeners inside of their songs. Weaving verbal tapestries, intertwined with unforgettable melodies, the artist creates a scene that comes to life with each phrasing and strum of the guitar.

On his debut, The Usual Stories & Usual Lies, Brian Sharpe’s smoky, slightly raspy, yet warm and knowing voice spins the musical flax over a range of subject matter. His songs proffer forth musical commentary about love, loss, hope, dreams, and just a touch of New York geography. Though his range is a bit limited, Sharpe does an impressive job of touring around his vocal neighborhood – never over stretching, or taking the easy way out.

The disc opens strong with the upbeat propulsion of Long Island Sound and Candystore Dropout. Sharpe’s fingers dance across the fret board, but never in a flashy or obtrusive way. A talented musician (he played multiple instruments, in addition to producing and recording the disc), Sharpe knows how to augment his songs with clever touches of a Hammond organ or backwards tape loop. Of course, the studio trickery is kept to a minimum, as not to shift the focus away from the lyrics and melody, where they belong.

When Sharpe sings that “You used to give me such hope with your big plans/And now you drag me with your slack/I’m sure you just have some things to work out in your mind/But I don’t want to waste your time” in Last Goodbye, you feel like you should offer up your shoulder for him to lean on. Therein lies some of Mr. Sharpe’s charm: He comes across as the cool guy down the hall in college who would strum his guitar while everyone shared a beer; when he feels down, you want to take him in and offer up the same comfort he once gave you.

While the 15 tracks may be a touch too many, there is little to skip over. Standouts include the aforementioned Long Island Sound, and the gorgeous tunes Santa Cruz and Secret (featured in the critically acclaimed independent film, The Rest Of Your Life).

To his credit, Sharpe crafts the kinds of songs that make you stop and listen. Though it may not change the world we live in, The Usual Stories & Usual Lies does herald the arrival of a fresh new voice. With this kind of auspicious opening act, it appears that Sharpe will be a “secret” no longer, and should be making great music for many more years to come.

Do yourself a favor and let Sharpe bend your ear for a while, you’ll be better for it.
- Former music contributor to CNN.com


Yes! very human, believable rendering of a heartbreak many of us have gone thru...the immediate sorta "dearJohn" rap that culminates with a variation of " it's not you, it's me...but we can still be friends." That's damned less possible for a young man than it is for a young woman with options. Nice job. Dig the Tremelo.

http://www.c0nsensus.com/reviewDetail.php?requestID=1153 - MYSTR Treefrog @ The Consensus Music Reviews


WOW! Okay, I'm impressed. Lyrically this cat is a monster -- I won't give the engineer high praise, but the music, the singer, the song ... all worthy of high praise and a song that makes it to the keeper file on my HD. Brian Sharpe is one of those singer-songwriters who given the right time and place in the universe would and could easily be discussed in the same breath as Steve Earle, Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Cockburn, or John Hiatt ... although I would fire the drummer for the sloppy fills ... as a record (recording) I'd love to see this one done better .. as a song, performer, and story-teller, this guy is worthy of major league consideration.

Scoring: Songcraft: 10, Recording: 5, Freshness: 9, Vocals: 9, XFactor: 10

http://www.c0nsensus.com/reviewDetail.php?requestID=1153 - The Goat @ The Consensus Music Reviews


This is very cool. Something like 'Cripple Creek' by the Band; something like 'Take a Walk on the Wild Side' by Lou Reed; something like Dylan's 'Rolling Stone' and a whole lot like itself. A good track is as full of aural allusions as a nut is full of meat. Nice. I really like the production choices on this track: the understated refrain; the slap bang beat; the organ. The vocals have a lot of character, something like Buddy Holly. Very, very nice. Highly recommended.

Scoring: Songcraft: 7.5, Recording: 7.5, Freshness: 7, Vocals: 7, XFactor: 7.5

http://www.c0nsensus.com/reviewDetail.php?requestID=1153 - The Captain @ The Consensus Music Reviews


BRIAN SHARPE: grasping memories
Contributed by Alice Loweecey
Thursday, 26 October 2006

You’re walking through the first snow of the season. You’re kicking through a huge pile of autumn leaves. You’re on a rock overlooking the ocean at sunrise. You’re in the attic, paging through your childhood photo album.
Quick; close your hand. It’ll be empty when you open it.

You can’t clutch the frost or the scent of the leaves or the glint of the sun on the water. But you can hold on to the memory. I invite you to learn how from a master: Brian Sharpe captures the reminiscence.
“Tell me, is your hair still as soft as your voice? And would you be mine if you could make the choice? Do the stupid things I say still get you high?”

That’s from “Santa Cruz,” one of the songs on his debut CD, The Usual Stories and Usual Lies. His voice weaves the memories around you. I found myself thinking about late nights in my college dorm. Those first giddy years of marriage. Nibbling my baby’s toes.

Born in Southern California, Brian knows the magic of a long, lazy day on the beach with friends. Better yet, he can translate it into three and a half minutes of captivating music. Currently living in Chicago, Brian also takes us through skyscraper-lined avenues crowded with street vendors and kids on skateboards as we head with him for a beer at the neighborhood tavern.

“She’s a regular girl;she takes on the world from this bar on 4th Avenue…I think she’s most beautiful when she sings—A bartending angel without the wings.”

Then he went east—and New York City blew him away.

“I had some down time,” he says, “so I found a small bar and wrote “Long Island Sound” on the back of a newspaper. I had to ask the woman next to me—a complete stranger—if there was such a thing as the Long Island Sound.”

“Then I see you/ In the high rise./ Then I’m near you/ Underneath these New York skies.”

But anyone who can out-Proust Proust in evoking memory has more than sweetness and light up his sleeve. Like “Last Goodbye:”

“For three long yeas I gave you everything I had
And leftovers were all I got back…
But I’m not going to waste my time
‘Cause I know that I’ll be just fine
And you’ve said your last goodbye
To me.”
“’Last Goodbye’ is one of the first songs where I felt comfortable writing fiction. When I started, I felt the only kinds of songs I could write were autobiographical. Now I’ve found a balance.”

Songs like “Anastasia” and “That Would Be a First” make the listener glad Brian’s just honing his fiction. “I don’t have relationships with femme fatales—I’d be a horrifying person!” And he laughs.

Brian’s far from that. He found his voice after years of immersing himself in the work of musicians ranging from folk to grunge. He’s gritty and he’s known the dark times, but his gentle side shows up, too. As proof, the CD closes with “Love Song No. 2:”

“You’re amazing and forgiving.
You’re too good for me, I’m sure…
I don’t know where on earth I would be
Without the way that you love me.”
“I wasn’t going to put that in the CD,” he says. “It’s vastly different lyrically from the others. But when I asked people to preview the CD and cut four tracks, no one cut the two love songs.”

My 15-song journey through truth, memory, and fiction with Brian left me sure of several things. The big city isn’t all bad. You can go home again—even if it’s only for a visit. And when you wake up tomorrow morning, roll over and kiss your beloved.

I’ve got my list. I’ll be checking off that last item tomorrow morning. Thanks, Brian. - BuddyHollywood.com


If John Hiatt, Shawn Mullins, and Jeff Buckley morphed their voices together, it would sound something like Brian Sharpe, a Southern California-born transplant to the Windy City. On The Usual Stories & Usual Lies he combines smoky leanings (”Long Island Sound”) with gravely tones (”Last Goodbye”), and an angelic vibe (”Just Like You”) to create a highly satisfying listen. (8/1/06) - Illinois Entertainer


"With his smooth vocals and catchy hooks Brian is not just another singer songwriter, he’s a poet with his words set to music. With songs that are reminiscent of singer songwriters Howie Day, Brian Webb, and James Taylor you are sure to be a fan of this new artist based out of Chicago, Illinois." - Validated Records, Santa Clara, CA.


"I've seen Brian perform in Los Angeles and all over Chicago. His work has continued to grow and flourish. From the haunting, cerebral 'That Would Be A First' to the anthemic 'Long Island Sound' and the sweet and swirling 'Santa Cruz' he continues to develop a personal sound that takes its cue from acoustic greats like Peter Mulvey and Bruce Cockburn with Jeff Buckley, Mark Knopfler ...But then, with wry humor, and a willingness to experiment, he works in other influences - heavy metal hair bands ...country songs you haven't heard and even Broadway musicals ...He'll start singing, and you'll be surprised. Or maybe even amazed." - Screenwriter and Producer, 'The Rest of Your Life'


“Great stuff. Very well thought out and real... We love it.” - Sub Cat Records, Baldwinsvile, NY


For my next long weekend, I’ll take Brian Sharpe’s CD, The Usual Stories and Usual Lies, and hit New York City. I’ll start at Long Island Sound, plug in my headphones, and spend a few happy days finding the soul of all the places he sings about in this CD.

Long Island Sound — the longing for ‘the’ girl and the hope and dreams of a life together. Candystore Dropout — “But that’s how it starts/You take just one look/And she has you by the heart.” Santa Cruz — "Tell me is your hair still as soft as your voice/And would you be mine if you could make the choice.”

These words and more are wrapped in a pleasing, gravelly voice that sneaks under your skin. Sharpe lures you away to his world of friends, lovers, hope, and poignant memories waiting on that next familiar street.

But like the city, it ain’t all pretty or exciting.

Bar on 4th Ave — “And you can see it in her eyes/All the pain that she has tasted.” Last Goodbye — a breakup that will wrench your heart. Just Like You — “How long must we wait/Till we can breathe again?” That Would Be A First — “You’re not allowed to reach in/And touch behind those eyes.” Last Chance — “And I can feel the future in my throat and how badly I am scared.”

But remember love. Love Song No. 1 — “You made me alive/You made me complete.” Love Song No. 2 — “You’re amazing and forgiving/You’re too good for me, I’m sure.”

Sharpe is a true storyteller. He sings and you’re compelled to listen: “We never take love lightly though/We only take love way too…way too fast.” You’ll hope you’re the friend he’s spending the day with or the girl he’s longing for.

9/20/06 - BuddyHollywood.com


Discography

She Drives Me Crazy (EP, 2007)
Live From Acoustic long Island (Live EP, 2006)
The Usual Stories & Usual Lies (2006)
Scheduled Till Eleven (EP, 2003)

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Bio

Brian Sharpe was born in Santa Barbara, California, raised in Germany and grew up in Chicago, Illinois after moving there to go to college. While studying acting at the prestigious Theatre School at DePaul University, Sharpe began being cast in roles that required his skills as a singer, composer and guitarist; skills he had developed while playing his first original songs at open mic nights in coffee houses and bars and in a back yard cover band (that played everything from Billy Joel, Elton John and The Eagles to Van Halen, Madonna and Journey) in the suburbs of Sacramento, California where he attended high school. This carried over into his professional career and after numerous gigs around the Midwest as actor/composer/musical-director including appearing in and writing music for Shakespearean plays and the award-winning indie film, The Rest of Your Life, Sharpe has finally released his first full-length album, The Usual Stories & Usual Lies.

Sharpe’s sound is a blend of many influences. His tough and throaty voice feels weathered and wise beyond his twenty-something years and is a result of growing up listening to tapes and CD’s by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Marc Cohn, Dire Straits and Steve Earle. His inventive and expressive guitar playing has a percussive edge to it that sounds bigger and badder then a 6-string acoustic guitar ever looks like it should sound and came about in college after he discovered and immersed himself in the techniques of Peter Mulvey, Mark Knopfler, Willy Porter and Bruce Cockburn. His songs are at once both muscular and fragile and feel like a wisp of smoke inside a glass of whiskey at 3 am in the dead of winter. Supported by intelligent, witty and sometimes heartbreaking lyrics, Sharpe's music has drawn comparisons to Pete Yorn, Jeff Buckley, Bob Schneider, Rhett Miller and John Mayer.

BRIAN SHARPE
THE USUAL STORIES & USUAL LIES

Brian Sharpe's The Usual Stories & Usual Lies begins, and in the opening chords and verse of Long Island Sound there is a pressure building like the kinetic energy in a rollercoaster climbing the first hill that provides the momentum for the whole ride. The chorus is a downbeat explosion transporting the listener into the world that Sharpe works in: his fingers dancing around the acoustic fretboard effortlessly while leaving space for the accompaning half distorted electrics, dirty organs and electric pianos that direct the focus of the arrangements on the songwriting.

Another uptempo hook in Candystore Dropout and the album then smoothly transitions into songs that feature Brian Sharpe’s true gift as a songwriter: lyrical storytelling. Last Goodbye tells the story of a tired relationship falling apart on a cold sidewalk one blustery afternoon. Bar On 4th Ave. is the sad yet hopeful tale of a young woman left alone in an unfamilliar place. Just Like You finds the wave of a warm groove rolling in with wisdom and passion riding on its crest. Santa Cruz, is a beautiful valentine. The construction invokes Lyle Lovett, with its wit and snapshots and musical accents sweeping us off to that corner bar in Austin as the album’s title swirls its way out of the first verse.

The locomotive, alternative-rock crash of Anastasia, a sexy and irrisistable femme fatale, leads into the tense, acoustic slap-groove of Franklin Street about a vulnerable girl struggling to escape a destructive and intoxicating environment to end the first half of the CD.

The second half of Sharpe’s album opens with the hazy midnight crush of That Would Be a First before climbing back up to anthemic heights with Secret. It then gives a new and noir-ish look at one of Elvis Costello’s oldest and most unusual songs (Watching The Detectives) after taking a sweet and simple moment for a romantic appeal in Love Song No. 1.

With the electronic buzz and crawl of The Daily and the tiny acoustic lull of Last Chance, that reminds you of the empty bar-room sound of Tom Waits’ Closing Time, Sharpe returns to exploring the dark themes of desperation and loss and you almost think he’s not going to let you out, until he ends with the sugary country twang of Love Song No. 2.

Brian Sharpe’s debut opens with a contemporary Top 40 bang and closes with an obscure 1970’s whisper and a hope. It’s as if you’re travelling through his life in reverse. Between these two points it swirls and screams, growls and sighs. It crafts intricate tales that are sometimes brash and bold and at others humble and plain; but the storytelling stays true throughout. Sharpe’s songs are about the stories that he’s experienced and the stories that you’ve experienced. The lies you’ve heard and the lies you’ve told. They are The Usual Stories & Usual Lies.