Gay singer/songwriter (and educator and writer) Brady Earnhart doesn’t disappoint on his long-awaited fourth album Last Time I Promise (City Salvage). There are few out musicians who are as consistently strong and inspiring as Earnhart. This is particularly true since Earnhart was recording Last Time I Promise while recovering from a debilitating health issue. Back to good health and better than ever, Earnhart gives us some of his most accessible work here, including the electric “Do You Believe” (complete with “dog-bark ringtone”) and the country comfort of “Handsome and Kind.” Intimate moments, including “Delray,” “You Made Light,” “Song for Bob,” and “Doctor’s Son,” are also standouts. Instrumentals such as the piano-only centerpiece “Crim Dell” and “Valley Road,” as well as the clever lyric play of “Baby Bear’s Porridge,” are welcome additions to Earnhart’s astonishing canon.Gregg Shapiro
I’m one of those media types. I produce two radio shows geared toward GLBT listeners, and consequently often get preview copies sent to me by the artists. The past couple weeks have been particularly bountiful, as I have received 8 to 10 new discs. I get through about one a day.
I have found the new Brady Earnhart CD, Manalapan, to be patently unfair to the others. I’ve been playing it over and over for four or five days now, can’t seem to take it out of the player.
I am very impressed and think it’s a marvel of songwriting, singing and production. While artists hate comparisons, it makes me think of a young Paul Simon, only much smarter and more sophisticated, with lyrics that paint full scenarios that pull you in.
I highly recommend this CD.JD Doyle
Manalapan… where Brady Earnhart spent time snorkeling and the title of his second album, a surprisingly breezy meditation on longing, love, and trying to “see back to where I started” even when the water gets murky. Earnhart’s impeccable lyrics abound with telling details, humor, and poignant revelations. Characters emerge fully realized (“Good Night Friday Night”). Some Whitman letters inspire perhaps the best song ever born out of a doctoral thesis.
Earnhart understands how to use his gentle voice to bring an unlikely combination of strength and melancholy to folk (“Arlington”), a James Taylor like anthem (“Get Right Back”), and rock (“Hot Red Car”). Manalapan… dive in.David Kleiner
Manalapan (City Salvage), the second full-length album by Brady Earnhart is so brilliant and wondrous that it’s almost unfair to write about any other CD’s in the same column. Earnhart is first and foremost a poet (he received an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa) and his lyrics have a sophistication and sensitivity that is rare in the contemporary queer music scene. . . While I don’t know in what order he writes his songs, lyrics or music first, the outcome is perfection. The music and the words are ideally suited to each other. Earnhart’s vocals and acoustic guitar are supplemented by Gina Pezzoli’s cello on the title track, while Kris Curran’s French horn shines through on “I Just Want More.” The backing vocals on “Arlington” give it an early Simon & Garfunkel zest. I cannot recommend this disc strongly enough.Gregg Shapiro
Brady Earnhart can intimate with heartrending subtlety the psychological tensions that attend friendship and love, ‘the questions I was not supposed to ask.’ The best songs of Manalapan only pass through your ears to break open at your core where they stir up a strange response at once painful and deeply tender.Forrest Gander
Brady Earnhart, After You. With his feet firmly planted in traditional folk, songwriter Brady Earnhart has fashioned a distinctive and poetic writing style. His understated guitar and breathy voice are warm and inviting, drawing the listener into the open-hearted smile of his words. It’s a wry smile, expressing a keen-edged, slightly oddball perspective that somehow remains welcoming. Sparse, tastefully played and arranged cello, upright bass, mandolin, accordion, fiddle, banjo, lead guitar, keyboards, and percussion highlight the beauty of the songs. There is a touch of John Martyn in Earnhart’s relaxed style, which only aids in making his work accessible. A truly outstanding debut album.Elizabeth Papapetrou
Earnhart’s songs may well be the most subtly poetic, skillfully crafted and all-inclusively human stuff I’ve heard in years . . . Manalapan is a fully realized, mature album . . . Each song is like a scene from a play . . . Incredible stuff. The CD release show brought this internal landscape alive, and, yes, you could’ve heard the proverbial pin drop during the performance of every song.Keith Morris
Brady Earnhart is a gifted dude whose tunes can be found on Nickeltown’s Presto Change-o and on his own CD After You. It’s definitely a sign of accomplishment when your peers are rushing into the studio to record your work. Earnhart’s stuff is worthy. He’s a clever lyricist who turns used-up phrases into fresh poetry and delivers them with a sweet and mellow voice . . . Brady makes sentiments that might seem trivial elsewhere respectable. And there’s always some clever twist. One tune humorously ponders the possibility that a long-term affair would have been better had it remained just an honest one-night stand. Another, “King of my Living Room,” propounds the virtues of successlessness, the protagonist proclaiming “No big ol’ lights on Saturday night / Have made me a bit of who I am” . . . Have a close listen to After You and see if you can tell me why this guy should have a day job.Cripsy Duck
When I first heard Brady Earnhart’s CD After You, I couldn’t take it out of my CD player. The songs are personal. The songs are compelling. They take you to a place where emotion meets love and compassion. They speak of things common in the human experience. And there’s poetry in them. Brady is one of the best songwriters I’ve heard in years! When I hear him play a song, it makes me want to go and thank him for having written it.John Hill