Fee Brown
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Fee Brown

Band Americana Singer/Songwriter

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"The Devil Dressed Me Review"

I heard Fee Brown & The Highwater’s album “The Devil Dressed Me” on an early grey Sunday morning. It cut through the greyness like beautiful sunshine. This album is what would happen if the Bad Seeds banded with the Dirty Three and Cockney Rebel and happened to bump into a beautiful, world weary singer whose voice wove unexpected magic and subtly. It is Aussie alt country with a touch of Americana and dark folk. Double bass and jangly guitars, pianos, swelling hammonds, soaring choirs, banjos and strings. And Tim Scanlon’s attacking harmonica on Holding Me Down is inspired.

And just when you think you have the measure of Fee’s voice she coaxes you and drags you in a new direction. The same is true of her wonderful song writing that deals both with familiar urban grittiness and rays of hope with maturity and freshness.

Probably my favourite song on the album is Why Does My Love Walk way. I love the way it lopes along but contains pent up menace and energy with wonderful vocals. But the good songs keep appearing with each new track. From the waltz at the start (complete with mariachi horns) to the rock out at the end, this album demands your attention.

This is an album to be listened to at volume and on regular rotation. I kid you not. As Fee writes in “Somebody Else’s Man” “Isn’t she lovely?”.You betcha!

- John Carver PBSfm - Across The Tracks PBSfm


"Fee Brown Is Dressed To Kill"

Fee Brown & The Highwater deliver a stunning debut album, full of bar room brawls, rainy Irish towns and wandering gypsies. An album that rises above the high water mark.
Fee Brown is no stranger to the multi-faceted music culture of the world. A restless spirit has taken her around the globe to exotic locations with chance meetings with world-weary music heroes (such as Nashville’s Steve Forbert) while ripening her experience with travellers and locals from the Sahara to Ensenada. The ever-pervading trials and rewards of life on the road however have sculptured her songs and her eclectic sound. In fact she may be one of the hardest working acts around today, and her debut album (an album supported by the Victoria Rocks program) The Devil Dressed Me is a watermark of such integrity; a layered album of rich tapestry and alt country heart. Brown’s husky voice intimately delivers stories of wandering travellers and vagabonds surrounded by a backdrop of warm flooding organ, strings, banjo, piano and valve amps. Tremolo and acoustic guitars anchor these rootsy songs, which sit perfectly within the context of the songs.
The opening track and radio single, 24 Hours (Bobby’s Waltz), does in fact live up to it's name, and opens with a single waltz strummed acoustic and quickly explodes into a chorus of vocal harmonies with a majestic sounding backing band The Highwater (Lead guitarist Damian Hooper, double bass player Chris Pain and percussionist Tim Scanlan) complete with accompanying mariachi trumpets to tie the tune together in true Americana fashion. And Fee assures us that Bobby is never coming home. It’s apparent that the album has been given ample care. It is extremely well produced and engineered by Myles Mumford (Lamplight, Kate Vigo, Way Out West), with Myles also providing Trombone and backing vocals on the track 24 Hours.
It’s not that often a singer/songwriter can capture the imagery and the geography of the material they’re writing, quite possibly, because they are merely imagining it from the comfort of their living room. Yet there is a sense of real characters on a journey within these 10 tracks. In Meantime Lover Fee and the band sound like they’ve been living in Bob Dylan’s trailer during his 70’s era, yet allowing the songs gravity to shift into a rousing chorus. Dublin Song paints a grey canvas, miserable Irish weather and hardship. An autobiographical tale of busking and playing bars in Dublin as Brown wails “Damn this depression what is the lesson and what good is taste without desire?” while the song highlights some of Fee’s delicate finger picking. Fitzroy County is almost a two-step country swing that could be straight from a Nashville jukebox, the difference being Fee follows in the tradition of The Waifs and sings in her home grown Australian accent, while remaining subtle in the process. Why Does My Love Walk Away provides a seductive warning and floats upon organ and wonderful dynamics and musical precision from Highwater. The title track The Devil Dressed Me is a personal favourite and opens with a PJ Harvey undertone, brooding and contemplative, yet quickly marches into a bar room romp and makes very tasteful use of cellist Judith Hamann, and as the band pick up the swing you can almost smell the smoke and whiskey; makes you want to dance around your living room swigging a bottle of rum while joining in on the "whoa whoa whoas". Closer sits well as a ballad, but doesn't quite hit the mark with the same consistency as the rest, however does provide a lift from the dramatics. That said, there is not a bad song on the album, but certainly stronger contenders than others. This is the dynamics of most albums, and quite often allowing for songs to grow on the listener. Choosing to close the album with the rumbling Holding Me Down is a bold move as the song jumps out with howling harmonica and chugging electric guitar, and is in fact rock enough to provide the theme to a bar fight, and that's what it seems to be as Brown promises herself liberation from an obviously exhausted relationship. One wonders if the song When The Clouds, with its ethereal harmonies, grand strings and sweeping backdrop would have provided a better departure.
There are subtle nods to Gilliam Welch, Kasey Chambers and The Waifs, but as an artist Fee Brown stands alone with a stunning debut album that is charming, seductive, sincere and full of real life stories.
The Devil Dressed Me will be officially launched at the Northcote Social Club on March 29th 2009.
- Jonathan Byron
- fasterlouder.com.au/Inpress magazine


Discography

Debut Album "The Devil Dressed Me" due for release Feb 2009
Single "24 Hours (Bobby's Waltz)/Somebody Elses Man" released Dec 2008

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Bio

Somewhere along the red dirt border of alt country, Americana and folk, Fee Brown & the Highwater have created a unique and eclectic sound. Their music transports you with rich imagery, rolling rhythms and intricate melodies.

In August 2008 the band recorded their debut album The Devil Dressed Me with producer Myles Mumford at Atlantis Sound studios, to be released in early 2009. The single 24 Hours (Bobby’s Waltz), a driving, mariachi-infused ballad, is now available.

Fee was born with a wanderer’s spirit that has drawn her to many far-flung and exotic places, filling her songwriter’s cup to overflowing. With guitar in hand, she has traversed the globe from the Sahara to Ensenada, jamming with the locals, writing and performing along the way. Most notably, Fee successfully supported Nashville singer/songwriter Steve Forbert at Dublin’s beloved venue, Whelan’s.

On a hot January evening in 2008, the clinking of four whisky glasses in a Fitzroy beer garden marked the beginning of Fee Brown & the Highwater. Lead guitarist Damian Hooper, double bass player Chris Pain (Austin Floyd) and percussionist Tim Scanlan all came to the party, each bringing new colour and depth to Fee’s music through their individual style. The bands first performance came two months later, headlining an event as part of the Brunswick Music Festival.

Fee Brown & the Highwater perform regularly in Melbourne at venues including The Gem Bar, the Standard and the Retreat Hotel. Fee is often on the road performing solo and the band plan to tour Australia mid 2009. Keep an eye on the website for upcoming gigs, tour dates and where to pick up a CD.

www.myspace.com/feebrown