Brianna Lea Pruett – “Gypsy Bells”

Not a bad record by any means, but could have been so much more… Read more!

Hannah Cook

out of 10

Brianna Lea Pruett
Gypsy Bells
October 01, 2013
Canyon Records

Like many of our folk darlings of today, Brianna Lea Pruett is well traveled and grew up on her parent’s obscure vinyl collection. Also like many other folk darlings, she sings softly of love and firmly of seasoned gypsy-like stories. But that’s sorta it: on her most recent release, Gypsy Bells, she’s just like the lady folk singers we’ve heard already.

While she claims many places as the root to her artistic value, we don’t hear much of the world, we just hear her. To be deemed a culturally ample artist means that Pruett should have used all the wiggle room that that genre—or lack there of–allows. I mean, think of all the types of people and types of places in this world: there’s a lot of ground to cover, but so it seems Pruett merely graced the surfaces of a few dusty places to create an album that by no means is bad, but just isn’t what it could have been.

What it could have been is a masterpiece from a young, blue-eyed and eager artist, unrecognized in the sloshes of crappy pop music and political unrest only because it’s quiet and subtle, hiding among but shining out from within the mountains and shadows she declares are apart of her kindred. What it is, though, is simply unrecognized because nothing on the album is identifiably hers or identifiably different.

There’s a little too much acoustic guitar strumming along in the same pattern, a little too much pitter-pattering percussion and a little too much mumbling underlying the whole album. The un-folky garnishes—and they really are such a small part–are what make Gypsy Bells curious only in moments, not as a whole: the Western theme in “Shine For You” and the touches of Blues piano and Baptist spirit in “Under Your Wing.” Or the slightly grungy whiffs in “Red Jacket” and “Live Wire.”

You can’t blame a girl for sticking to what she knows. It’s how we live our daily lives—musical or not. But as a jack-of-all-trades artist, Pruitt could have used her worldly knowledge in poetry and visual art and translated it into a sound much bigger than what it is while still sticking to tradition that folk artists are so known for.

-Hannah Cook, October 21, 2013
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