There is very little modern country that doesn’t cause my ears to bleed. I think it mostly comes from a notion that in order to be good, country music must be something more than top-40 pop tunes sung through the nose. An artist that gets this, in a wonderful way, is consummate honky-tonk master Junior Brown. With his signature “guit-steel” (a double neck guitar that combines an electric guitar and lap steel guitar) he combines a classic country sound with both a love of Hawaiian and Surf Rock sounds to make music that is both entirely unique and entirely country
12 Shades of Brown, like many début albums, is a nice introduction to a great artist, but is far from a perfect album. However, this album has some great country gems such as “My Baby Don’t Dance to Nothing but Ernest Tubb” and “Too Many Nights in a Roadhouse”. It also features his first explorations of the island sounds with “Hillbilly Hula Gal” and “Coconut Island”. Unfortunately, this album displays some songs that dive way too far into sappy sentimentality such as “They Don’t Choose to Live that Way” though I can stand to listen to “Don’t Sell the Farm” occasionally. However, Hank Williams tributes such as “What’s Left Won’t Go Right” and just perfect country songs like “Broke Down South of Dallas” more than make up for these slight stumbles.
12 Shades of Brown is an extremely listenable and enjoyable album and a wonderful precursor to Brown’s later, more polished works.