“Life Lessons” is Portland’s soul outfit, Brownish Black’s debut LP. In releasing said LP, Brownish Black has successfully justified the most “bohemian” act I’ve ever witnessed, starting an octet, soul band, with garage roots, in Portland, and partnering with an indie label. Though this album is one fixed gear short of a Portlandia sketch, the results are a truly wonderful; with a medley of well-crafted songs culminating in some of the best brass work in an album in recent memory. With a strong start to the album, “Life Lesson” pulsates out a feeling of comfortability; a lively jazz club is conjured up in my head (possibly in New Orleans, but definitely somewhere humid), as wetness drapes the faces on stage, dancing breaks out. This is all done in the first few seconds of the song; I have to give some sort of praise to a group talented enough to build a narrative in the preliminary moments of an album.
Most of the songs on the album have this dynamic quality to them; no two songs are that similar and every single second recorded perpetuates restless-leg-syndrome. “Singing a song” is a throaty love song, or rather an account of the impassioned lovesick thoughts one would have when thinking about one’s love interest. It’s great to see a song writer, with roots in heavy rock, as is the case with MD Sharbatz being able to reach deep into the soft spot we all tuck away to bring out one of the most beautiful ballads I’ve heard.
Brownish Black as a whole is a risky endeavor, but as the music scene gets flooded with reverb heavy rock (no matter how good the band is), you start to hunger for different approaches to music. I’m not typically a fan of most things soul if you aren’t James Brown. “Life Lessons” was not only able to feed my craving for a different take on music, but in doing so, BB was able to open up a whole genre of music I was previously apprehensive about delving in. I wish all the best to Brownish Black and praise them for making me more musically inclined to soul.