Brave Delivers the calm | the storm on New Album
It’s been over 10 years since the sextet Brave last recorded an album, and it’s not hard to see why. You can’t just fluke up on this degree of sonic sophistication, enticing lyrics, and instrumentation. It takes time to get each of those elements right, to blend them and diverge them at the opportune moments, which is just what Brave has done with its recent full-length gem, the calm | the storm.
Featuring Ben Kelly on bass guitar, Matt Kozar on acoustic and electric guitar, Michelle Schrotz on stunning vocals and keyboards, Scott Loose on just about everything but the cue sticks, Suvo Sur on violin and keys, and Trevor Schrotz holding things down on the drums, the calm | the storm accomplishes that rarest of feats: producing a singular output much, much greater than the sum of its individual parts.
Although the comparison is somewhat a stretch, the best moments on the LP adhere to the formula Quincy Jones described about the making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller—it manages to go for the jugular in multiple styles or types of music. There’s no denying the foundation of rock underpinning the majority of the songs on the calm | the storm, but the group manages to squeeze in as much variety as possible while still remaining true to its roots.
Take “No Gravity”, for instance, with its prominent violins featured on a chorus bereft of vocals. In fact, the entire tune is pure instrumental bliss, showcasing the fact that the group is a top rate band above all else. The acoustic guitar intricacy on this one sounds like its speaking; there’s breakdowns and bridges seemingly within the introduction and instrumental hook. This song all but gets up and struts out the room it moves so much through an interminable series of passages and corridors.
“A Thousand Miles of Sand”, in contrast, is a much more traditional number with an easy, midtempo flow in which Schrotz breaks out the poetry on the mic. Laden with waves upon waves of buttery acoustic guitars, “Thousand” is the first number on the set that’s quiet enough to spotlight her full range as a vocalist. The singer not only has a good voice, but also the phrasing and timing necessary to build a track or two around.
With straight ahead rock like “I Will Wait” and “Mystery” rounding out the collection, Brave could easily go another decade of touring and promoting this work before releasing another album.