Brock's Folly

The Great Commoner

The Great Commoner by Brock's Folly
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For fans of:Avett Brothers, Keith Green, Fleet Foxes, Josh Ritter, Mumford & Sons
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  1. William Jennings
  2. Boston
  3. Primary Issues
  4. Utah
  5. Same Table
  6. Dear Penelope
  7. Foxy Lady
  8. Shaming Cupid
  9. Marriage Song
  10. Lesson In Dying From Heather
  11. Romans Eight Eleven
  12. Night Before
  13. Who Will Speak
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In their sophomore release, The Great Commoner, Brock’s Folly celebrate the checkered legacy of William Jennings Bryan, the Illinois populist politician turned unwitting spokesman for American Christianity so possessed with principle that he opposed imperialism, corporations, banking, and science all at once. Brock’s Folly bookend their record with two tracks explicitly devoted to Bryan, and the final, incandescent chords of “Who Will Speak?” answer with confidence the record’s opening lamentation in “William Jennings,” suggesting that, with their music, the band have once more taken up the mantle left by their alma mater’s namesake.

In The Great Commoner, the band investigate family, death, commitment, and even eschatology with a nuanced alt-country rocker (“Same Table”), the stompin’ folkabilly of “Dear Penelope,” the Appalachian circus pop of “Foxy Lady,” and the bittersweet marching plod of “Lesson in Dying.” Lillard’s banjo gallops alongside electric bass lines in “William Jennings” before crisp, harmonic explosions romp through “Boston” with such wry playfulness. On the other hand, stark silences punctuate Stout’s devastating “Utah,” which captures in its echoes the grief of fraternal estrangement. “Romans 8:11,” with equal parts mournful brass and neat, subdued beats, tackles the loss of a loved one and manages to unite remembrance with surrender.

Before Lillard’s haunting and enigmatic “Night Before” rounds out the record with a psychedelic chamber nocturne of slide guitar set to a cosmic arrangement of background harmonies, the band have led their listener down countless dusty roads glittering with torment and redemption. The band’s genuine rapture—this celebratory spirit informed by unshakable conviction—is enough to make any tourist feel insecure, but these songs, and the raw freedom of musical expression that Brock’s Folly so treasures, will kindle the spirit of any listener willing to believe.

Benjamin Hodges

Portland, Oregon

May 2014

For fans of:Avett Brothers, Keith Green, Fleet Foxes, Josh Ritter, Mumford & Sons
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