A Review from Greenman Review: by Gary Whitehead
Lex Browning doesn't have quite as many years under his belt as Larry Jon Wilson, but he's been playing music professionally since the '70s. He has quite a varied resume; that includes the '80s Portland pop band Quarterflash, the Clamtones, the Austin Lounge Lizards and Portland's Freak Mountain Ramblers, one of his current gigs. He's written songs for and performed with mainstream country acts including Tanya Tucker, Pam Tillis, Vince Gill, Kenny Rogers and Trace Adkins. He's as proficient on the fiddle as he is on electric guitar, and if his new album Good Rain is any indication he can also write a decent song.
Browning wrote nine of the 12 tracks on Good Rain. Although stylistically the album leans heavily toward a countryfied pop sound, there's plenty of variety. His "Dover Boys" is blues-heavy rock; "Little Wars" is old-school rock 'n' roll (with members of Pink Martini in the horn section); and opening cut "Black Berry Wine" is Texas-style country with fiddle and accordion setting the mood. The covers include a rocked-up bluegrass version of the traditional "Wild Bill Jones" with Portland diva Storm Large on harmony vocals; a similarly rocked-up "Wayfaring Stranger" and the just plain rocking "Run Run Run," a pre-Who Pete Townshend song.
The production, by Gregg Williams (who also played drums), drifts perilously close to slick Nashville sound on some of the songs, and some have Lex's vocals on strong reverb that has a New Age feel to it, especially the romantic "This Too Shall Pass" and "New December Moon." That's just my reaction to these songs, though -- your mileage may vary, as they say. Musicians helping out on various tracks, in addition to those already mentioned, include members of the Freak Mountain Ramblers (Dave Reisch on bass and Willy North on drums), Alexa Wiley and Shannon Day on backing vocals and Lewi Longmire on piano and organ. It's a classy collection of tunes that shows off Browning's versatility. You can find it here.