Brother Dege
Folk Songs of the American Longhair


4.1
excellent

Review

by Magnus Altkula STAFF
June 27th, 2013 | 49 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Folk songs for everybody

Lately I’ve lost my writing mojo, at least when it comes to writing about music. Even new albums that truly excite me haven’t been able to get me out of this rut. Seemingly every time I sit down to write something, all original ideas I might’ve had instantly disappear and all I hear is the echo of wind and hollow thoughts in my head. To fix the situation, I’ve been turning towards things and narratives that I connect with the most in order to bring back some of the vigor and creativity that dated teaching methods in universities have undoubtedly robbed me of. The theme of nature is one such narrative. Despite being born and raised mainly as a city-boy, I’ve always felt the call of nature and land and have never been too great a fan of the big city life. Coincidentally, when it comes to music, even the simplest, hell, even faux-folk melodies almost always catch my attention. I’ve spent way more time in nature lately and in correlation with it, have also been listening to more organic, folky music next to to my everyday genre of choice, which would be metal. One could ask that what is the point of this candid, yet seemingly extraneous intro. My answer: it’s honest and open, just like this album, Folk Songs of the American Longhair, is.

Brother Dege is a one of a kind character with a colorful background. The man has worked as a cabdriver, machinist, case worker in a homeless shelter, fry cook, journalist and has dabbled in many other professions as well. One thing Dege has always had going for him, though, is his pervasive love of music. Being the leader of an underground psychedelic rock group Santeria for over a decade from the mid-1990s to late 2000s, he encompasses a strong rock background that he applies to his present day solo work which has its roots in delta blues. This is best exhibited in the album’s most famous song "Too Old To Die Young", which stars on the Django Unchained soundtrack and has an already strong bluesy melody torched with some killer southern rock flair. It is the album’s most rock ’n’ roll cut, but definitely not a sole standout, as the record is filled to the brim with excellent neo-blues tunes that form a heartfelt homage to the roots music of the Deep South. Musically, though, Folk Songs of the American Longhair is much more than a sincere homage. It may be straightforward in its approach, with Dege’s slide guitar playing and bass drum kicks making up the instrumental part of most songs, but the playing itself is crafty, soulful and full of raw energy. Using the slide guitar technique, Dege is able to play around with all sorts of pitches and tones to keep the songs entertaining and fresh. For example, the 8-minute country epic "House of The Dying Sun" with its minimalistic approach absolutely dazzles due to Dege’s charisma and superb melody choices.

Lyrically, Folk Songs of the American Longhair is every bit as honest as its music sounds. Dege doesn’t throw grand ideas, philosophical revelations or pathos-loaded statements at the listener. Surprisingly, even the life of the South (whether past or present) isn’t portrayed in too great detail on this otherwise southern-fried album (although southern slang and pronunciation are instantly recognizable in the vocals). Instead, Brother Dege immerses us with personal tales and ponderings about everyday life, but does so in a clever, often metaphorical way. He’s not trying to win anybody over or share universal truths to the listener. Just like the album’s title insinuates, these are purely his songs that represent his questions which give a glimpse into the world of Brother Dege, where thoughts about god, faith, morality and fate reign free.

Folk Songs of the American Longhair has pretty much everything you could want from a 21st century country-blues album. An earnest record with real personality, it features soulfulness in symbiosis with grit and a touch of rock ’n’ roll. It is a homage to the (musical) culture Dege was exposed to growing up as well as a southern man’s artistic expression – a modern take on a classic sound that is easily lovable and relatable. It’s organic (the album was recorded in a shed) but also meaty and produced to near-perfection, bearing a thick, groovy sound associated with southern rock artists. Folk Songs of the American Longhair avoids all cliches and pitfalls usually associated with modern country-tinged music and its mixture of blues, roots music and rock ’n’ roll is unexpectedly refreshing. At times there are supplemental instruments like djembe and bass guitar used as well, but the spotlight is always on Dege’s guitar playing and his raspy voice – both charismatic enough to carry this album with ease. There’s no pretentiousness involved and Dege isn’t trying to achieve anything other than self-expression of the highest quality. Folk Songs of the American Longhair just sees a man armed with a guitar, singing about life over some sweet southern tunes, and isn’t that just great? The most straightforward forms of music are sometimes the most enjoyable and invigorating.



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user ratings (14)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2013


8393 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Trying to overcome my writer's block somehow.

Too Old To Die Young: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyGdDVeCgTM

House of The Dying Sun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XggglHRrV-I

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2013


20159 Comments


I actually really dug the opening paragraph. nice write up

Digging: Johann Sebastian Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2013


10383 Comments


I really enjoyed this review, Magnus. Writer's block is definitely a tough thing to overcome-- they say to only write when you feel it, but that isn't realistic for us and the albums we have to cover.

You did a really good job here though, man. A good job of explaining why this album speaks to you, and why you found yourself so content with it. I will say that your review could use a more natural conclusion-- maybe you could bring it full-circle, and explain what the album has made you realize. Of course, though, not in the cheesy way I just said it.

Digging: Thou - Heathen

Tyrannic
June 27th 2013


3262 Comments


I like this a lot so far.

Plus I'm in the same exact situation writers block wise. It honestly doesn't show in the write up good job!

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2013


8393 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

I'll look into it, Jacob. I totally get what you're saying, as I don't feel super content with how I finished the review either, but I had trouble coming up with that one good sentence to wrap it all up. You may have inadvertently given me an idea or two of what to add, though, so thanks a lot.

Thank you Atari and Tyrannic!

Mad.
June 27th 2013


4204 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My got I love you so much for reviewing this. I added it to the database now I feel special. Please someone check out Santeria...

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2013


8393 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

You're welcome! And yeah, Santeria's pretty cool. They do deserve a review, but I'm not up to writing one at the moment (maybe in the future, though). I hope someone else will pick up on it.

Mad.
June 27th 2013


4204 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I dibs the Year of the Knife review. That album is solid 4.8/5.

This one's pretty great as well but I hope he expands his sounds in the next one.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2013


8393 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Then go right ahead and write something up for them!

Regarding this album, it does largely feature the same style throughout, but in a way that makes me absolutely love it (plus imo there's a good balance of more driven rockers and slower crawlers). The tone of this record is fantastic.

Mad.
June 27th 2013


4204 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, but it would get a bit repetitive after 2 albums... I loved the new spin on House of the Dying Sun.

My YOTK review will be out soon, I roughly know what I'm gonna say.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
June 28th 2013


24098 Comments


123 so hard with that intro

I hate writing right now but I keep forcing it out

Digging: Mitski - bury me at makeout creek

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
June 28th 2013


8393 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Same, partly because I have to, partly because atm I actually have the time to sit down and write something, and it is the most frustrating thing ever when you can't express yourself the way you know you could in theory.

CosmicPie
June 28th 2013


1078 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is so good. Maybe I'm a bit biased as I'm from Louisiana, but Dege does Blues right.

CosmicPie
June 28th 2013


1078 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

By the way, as Mad. said, inquiring minds should check out the band Santeria. Incredibly underrated band. I'd go so far to say they're one of the best Rock bands I've discovered this decade.

Mad.
June 28th 2013


4204 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"I'd go so far to say they're one of the best Rock bands I've discovered this decade"

I'd go further...

Man, it's surreal to have people talking about Brother Dege and Santeria on this site

CosmicPie
June 28th 2013


1078 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yea, I know this phrase has been beaten to hell, but they really don't get the recognition they deserve.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
June 29th 2013


13457 Comments


so who would like this album

CosmicPie
June 29th 2013


1078 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"so who would like this album"

That question is nonsense. Anyone who likes it, likes it... Anyone who doesn't, doesn't. But if you're a black jew living in Liverpool with a peg-leg and no cain, then you probably won't like it.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
June 29th 2013


13457 Comments


what is the target market here

Mad.
June 29th 2013


4204 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Brother Dege ain't got no target market, he makes music cuz he loves it, man



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