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Picks and Pans Review: Further in

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Greg Brown

Singer-songwriter Greg Brown was no fool to share a stage so long with Garrison Keillor (he was a regular on A Prairie Home Companion in the mid-1980s and still does guest spots). Next to that tall humorist’s singing voice, Brown’s sounds like Placido Domingo. On his 12th album, Brown, 47, seems more like a wise old bullfrog philosophizing in a fogbank. His style comprises his entire past, from the gospel he heard tagging along with his Pentecostal preacher daddy in Iowa to the decades he spent as a singer-songwriter on the folk-rock circuit. Brown’s lyrics, sung in a lazy, Midwest twang, can be witty as John Hiatt’s (“There’s a young fella rappin’ in a thump-thump car/ And he’s smug as a commentator on NPR”) and as political as a Rock the Vote promo (“There’ll be one corporation selling one little box/ It’ll do what you want and tell you what you want and cost whatever you’ve got”). In such tunes as “Not High,” Brown sings folk music for grownups who aren’t too old to long for a “two-day hug and a three-day kiss and a loving stretch of common bliss.” (Red House)