I’ve worked with Roger Brainard. I’ve found him to be his own. I think that is what an older, wiser artist should be. Not only has he found his way of doing things, he has found time to help a few find theirs. To me, this song epitomizes that and I’ll explain why. But first, listen to the tune, here.
Working with Roger a few years ago now on “Fear,” (from a collaborative album we made that was released in June), I remember short conversations about deep topics. No Frills, meat and potatoes, we are on the clock. Roger doesn’t come off vulnerable or desperate for you to listen, he simply seems to be very busy amusing himself. There was great concern in working with him to provide the listener with a place and atmosphere. Roger’s focus, to me, what I go to him for, is helping the listener escape. I don’t even think he’d let it leave the door unless it worked on him first. That is a work ethic. And “RING of FIRE” is all about it.
‘Ring of fire” is a special song to me. It was played at my second wedding by friends as almost a warning. I always thought it was a happy tune about loving and merrymaking and frolicking. But Roger took it differently. He paints a vision of uncontrollable desire. It works, and works well. It is as if it has dawned on me, after all these years, that I was mislead. This song isn’t happy, it is brewing with passion and regret. Funny, after my divorce, the song played to celebrate, now takes me back to sleeplessness and anger. Same song. That is the power of Roger, the swamp, and minor chords.
Instrument-wise, you’ll find he has a lot of tricks, and production quality is top notch, but it is the atmosphere that keeps me hitting the repeat button. I love this mood. Roger’s gift lies somewhere between a swamp and a dobro and a dark Faulkner scene. It is one of my favorite places to be, from a distance, as there’s always a hint of danger. But thankfully, we get to observe and be immersed in this world Roger creates from the comfort of our own home.
What I meant about teaching other artists from the beginning is that if you listen to him, nothing Roger does here or anywhere is extraordinarily hard, his licks aren’t the most dextrous, his instrumentation isn’t blowing you up. Roger is teaching us how to get by. There’s settling for nothing in his sound, but using just about anything. He shows us vivid tapestries made from tambourines. Wild and dark scenes with a dobro. And he’s grasping painful words with a voice. This is not hard to do, but impossible to replicate. To me it says I don’t need much, I just need to feel it, then time it. The timing and emotion of this song are pure Roger Brainard. But, when it is over, it almost feels like he’s saying, “your turn.” Roger has found his swamp, even in a cover song. And the Shadows are there for it. 5 paw paws out of 5.
Here’s Roger’s Social Media: