Review Summary: Evan Brewer's latest work delivers a more entertaining, complete outing with excellent ideas and execution, but does not avoid the flaws of the previous album.
In 2011, Evan Brewer released his debut album, Alone
, to generally positive acclaim. The debut is defined primarily by the layered use of the bass as the sole source of sound, rhythmic or melodic, a-la Victor Wooten style. Which, given the proper background, is not surprising seeing as how Brewer was mentored musically by Reggie Wooten from a very early age. Although the debut had a number of great tracks, it was plagued by aimless wandering that was not exactly sure what it wanted to accomplish. The meandering, combined with the short run time, and a lack of variation on the sonic spectrum, created a rather unfulfilling experience that was largely forgettable.
Enter Your Itinerary
, a wildly expanded musical endeavor. The easiest comparison between the two albums is as follows:
You’re at home and you just recently got back from a lengthy work out. You have not eaten in 8+ hours. Your muscles are aching and the lungs are still tight from the cardio that was endured just some moments ago. Sitting down at the table, a collection of savory smells invades your senses – “someone cooked for me?” you say to yourself. In front of you, a choice of two dishes but you can only eat one. On the right is a decently-sized vegetarian salad, with some spinach, almonds, feta cheese, and sundried tomatoes. On your left is a 16oz rib-eye steak, medium-well done, paired with scalloped bacon potatoes, grilled asparagus, and an ice cold craft brew.
is the meal on the left.
Filled to the brim with experimental content, the album is laden with shifting tempos, varied contrasting moods, and finally, other instruments
. While Alone
was more of an exercise in technical capacity, Your Itinerary
strives to be a more complete outing. This notion allows for further confidence in the music and sounds less like a book on tape of bass exercises. With the inclusion of Navene Koperweis (former Animals as Leaders
) on drums and Jeremiah Abel on various keys, Brewer no longer has to try so hard to make the music interesting. Combined with the more easy-going nature of the bass, the music breathes more naturally and allows for expanded exploration on the moods found within the compositions, with ‘Another World’
displaying this phenomenon well. The aforementioned conditions lead to a much more satisfying listen, lending the listener an invitation for future replays, in hopes of uncovering that motif, melody, or contrast previously unheard.
Unfortunately, as good as the steak dinner is, it isn’t without its flaws (caloric overload, fat %, etc.,). Primarily, the still present meandering – which was more or less covered up with the introduction of various instruments. It does not however make up for painfully average songwriting. The transitions could have used a higher degree of attention, as at times, it resembles listening to a rambling old man tell a story from his 20s. No clue as to what’s going on, but sounds interesting so you nod along and hope there isn’t a quiz at the end.
A note on production: with Koperweis’ involvement on the drums also came the production/engineering/mixing duties as well. Although technically there is nothing wrong with the outing, and the mix sounds better than average, you can tell that Koperweis’ production practice on Weightless
(Animals as Leaders
) paid off in helping him prepare for this release. Albeit the general outcome does not sound as mechanical or suffocated, it’s still over-produced and not very dynamic as a result of the compression on the tracks.
Overall, this is an entertaining listen with some excellent ideas and above average execution. The album brings forth a new found atmosphere and shows a leaning towards collaborative confidence on Brewer’s behalf, signaling of better things to come.