The guitar is the most essential component in melodic Americana, but for southern singer/songwriter Brooks Forsyth, its role in the process of making a record is so much more important than just that of an inanimate musical instrument. In songs like “Anna Lee,” “Ain’t Got the Time,” “Blue Railroad Train” and “Little Coal Mining Town,” (all of which can be found on his new record So Much Beyond Us), the story isn’t told through Forsyth’s singing, but instead via relationship that he shares with his guitar in the tracks. There’s an intimacy between this man and his axe that cannot be described through words alone, but fortunately enough for all of us, that doesn’t stop Forsyth from sharing his love of the craft with anyone who decides to give So Much Beyond Us a spin.
In the music video for the album’s leadoff single “Cast My Dreams to the Wind,” we’re given access to one of the more cinematic videos that I’ve seen from an underground artist all year long, but the imagery and phenomenal directing by Nigel Dick make up only half of the allure in this poignant piece of art. As has been the case with everything that he’s made professionally, Forsyth keeps the lion’s share of our attention directed towards the music in the background, which somehow slips through the high definition shots and captures our hearts regardless of where we are or what we happen to be doing. The track’s intoxicating melody trumps anything that the video could have introduced us to, but both are worthy of the respected moniker that they bear.
There’s not a whole lot of urgency in “Heaven is but Going Home,” “Ain’t Got the Time,” “Girl from Caroline” and the title track from So Much Beyond Us, but there’s nevertheless a passion in these songs that you rarely hear in modern country music – or pop in general, for that matter. Forsyth doesn’t have to issue a ton of lumbering grooves and super-sophisticated guitar solos to make a broadminded impact on his scene with this record; if anything, his adherence to anti-indulgent themes and concepts derived from classic folk music are what keep him in a higher aesthetical tier than where the majority of his contemporaries have found themselves in the hierarchy of alternative culture.
Whether you’re new to his sound and are just discovering the collective works of Mr. Brooks Forsyth through this, his latest and possibly greatest full-length studio album to date, or have been following him since his salad days, you really need to make a point of listening to So Much Beyond Us the next time you’re in the market for new and exciting music. Forsyth isn’t placating us with a lot of predictable visualizations and surreal sonic breakdowns in this record; rather than following the trend that is plaguing the output of his commercialized brethren in Los Angeles and Nashville, he’s setting his style apart from the pack by keeping his music free of the dreadful frills, bells and whistles that have become a hallmark of the halfheartedly creative in 2019. He’s coming hard for the establishment, and this could be described as his declaration of war on the mundane Americana that I think we’ve all grown tired of.