Marlowe Album Review: Allow Solemn Brigham to introduce himself

Early offerings often announce the arrival of authors equal parts gusto and raw, soon-to-be-developed talent. Colour North Carolina’s Solemn Brigham an exception.

The latest of many to roam resident Mello Music Group producer L’Orange’s otherworldly soundscapes, Brigham introduces himself with as much of an eager debutant’s drive as a seasoned scribe’s understated confidence and technical proficiency on Marlowe, the 17-track fruit of his alliance with the Seattle-based beatsmith. Airtight flow, internal rhymes and multis at the ready, Brigham burns the midnight oil (“my odd ways made daybreak the new curfew”) and tirelessly battles his inner-demons (“The Basement,” “Things We Summon”) while seeking some sense of purpose or payoff for his struggles in L’Orange’s bizarro world of sideshow attractions and funhouses. The LP’s silent partner swaps the dusty, tried-and-true samples befitting a peak-Prohibition speakeasy for horns and psychedelic rock loops that buck in concert with the endless motor of Marlowe‘s vocal half, as Brigham reconciles himself with choosing necessity over morality on standout “Honest Living” – where he cops to making “a modest killing doing what’s not appealing” – before braving the night a la Travis Bickle on “Palm Readers.”

Brigham’s bars are revelatory for a relative newcomer, but unlike L’Orange’s carefully constructed alternative universe, he often tosses up the meat of his sins and plight to the imagination. That said, whether the omission makes Marlowe’s listeners deem the LP somewhat unfinished or spawns gleeful efforts to fill in the blanks over its 50-minute run time, the MC leaves no question regarding his abilities unanswered.

Grade: 8/10