Review – Hugh Christopher Brown

Album: Pacem
Release Date: November 24, 2017
Genre: Folk-Rock

You may know him as the founder of the Pros and Cons Program at Joyceville Institution (formerly Pittsburgh Institution), where Hugh Christopher Brown ran music workshops with prisoners to create the album Postcards from the County. Now ready to release his own originals, the Canadian singer-songwriter is here to bring us peace with Pacem. A cathartic, vulnerable piece of work, Pacem brings feelings of serenity and introspection to the listener.

The album opens with a soft, hypnotic chant in “Prayer of St.Ignatius” backed by delicate harmonies and pure tones. “Love The World” follows and its sudden shift in genre is jaunting at first, but subtle hints of piano atop a circular riff and prophetic verses leave the song with an air of mystery that hooks the listener in immediately.

Beginning to pick up tempo and mood, “Keeper Of The Flame” and “Here Comes My Love” are everything you’d ask for in classic folk/pop songs with sentiments of hope and happiness. “Here Comes My Love” especially feels like a warm hug that you can sing along to.

The middle of the album keeps building slowly, with the addition of a longing duet in “To The Lighthouse” sung atop pining violins and a driving rhythm. “Moved By Hands To Shelter” follows, as it grows into a larger, story-telling ballad with lush harmonies juxtaposed over rough lead vocals.

“The Great Unknowing” catches the listener off-guard with its edgy, percussive manner. Taking a break from the hopeful messages of the previous songs, this track mixes inspiring melodies and sweeping instrumentals with disruptive percussion to pack a punch.

“The Yield” begins to signal the end of the album with a calming piano solo that, as a track, floats above the rest of the songs and flows seamlessly into “The Wave.” A powerful, minimalistic ballad, “The Wave” is easy to get lost in and probably one of my favourite tracks from the album.

“Broken” brings an end to Pacem with an acoustic number telling a simple story about love.

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