Pennan Brae is a Vancouver, Canada-based indie rock artist who has caught my attention this year through his undefinable style. Previous single releases like Mona and Night Crawling have drawn on influences like classic rock and roll and alternative country but don’t fit nicely into any genre. As such, I was keen to find out what his 10th album Planted would have in store.
By Graeme Smith
Feature Photo by Dan Jackson
The album kicks of the jangly, rocky Space Surf Navigate. Pennan’s vocals have a unique quality to them, almost whispered but with a great sense of energy and bounds of charisma. The verse has a staccato rhythm to it that really sticks with you and the build up to the crescendo will get you hyped.
Track two Beckon Command takes things in a psychedelic direction with noodling electric guitar and a steady groove. Among Pennan’s influences are The Rolling Stones and John Mellancamp and you certainly get that through Beckon Command.
From there the album canters through the blues rock tour de force My Spirit Rides, and the bitingly political Incognito, before reaching the aforementioned single Mona. Embodying Pennan’s sound at its poppiest, it’s a bright moment in the middle of the album’s journey.
Spooky Halloween love story Night Crawling starts the second half of the album. Iron-Ons introduces elements of funk to Pennan’s now familiar staccato delivery. It’s a track that can really get you moving, yet its lyrics contain frustration and a cutting edge that you might miss while you dance. Hi-Def Stereo is country rock in the vein of Lynyrd Skynyrd and has the same sense of nostalgia as some of the Floridian band’s greatest hits.
The album closes with the one-two punch of Laying Low and Long Bomb Deep Calm. The former is blues rock with dark undertones and slide guitar highlights. The latter is a emotive, drama-filled piece that touches on ’80s rock tropes. It marks the album’s most boundary-pushing, genre-twisting moment and is a wonderful way to wrap up this collection.
Or is it? The album’s full title is The Garden Series Vol. 1: Planted, which means there is more to come from this story. Great news for Pennan’s fans, myself included. Check out Planted below and you may well become one too.