Brett Dennen: Hope for the Hopeless

Music  |  Reviews
Brett Dennen: <em>Hope for the Hopeless</em>
Singer/songwriter wears influences on sleeves, pant legs, headband, socks…

The temptation is to dismiss Brett Dennen as the sort of derivative ’70s-style singer/songwriter that serves as triple-A radio’s foundation. But maybe the way to look at Hope for the Hopeless—the California native’s third album—is less as the work of a provocative newcomer and more as period drama: historical fiction based in the early-’70s sound of Bob Dylan and The Band, with Van Morrison and Neil Young dropping by. A perfect example is “Wrong About Me,” a “Saint Dominic’s Preview” of an anthem that uses a familiar sound to tackle one of Van’s favorite subjects: professional criticism. Besides a forgettable jaunt into Afro-influenced pop (featuring a bored-sounding Femi Kuti), there’s nothing new about Hopeless, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Beyond mere aping, Dennen uses these stylistic references and songwriting anachronisms as colors in his paint box. For those still enthralled by the lyrical twists and midtempo folk-rocking of 1972, this record will be manna from heaven.

Sign up for the Paste newsletter Get our daily summary of the day's top articles and new items. Sign Up Thank you! Your email address has been added to our list. You will begin receiving our newsletter within 48 hours.

Paste Magazine example 1 Paste Magazine example 2 Paste Magazine example 3