It would be easy to pass off Kirby Brown as another in the short list of local Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights wannabe acts. Brown, after all, cites several of The Northern Lights in the liner-note credits of his solo debut album, Child Of Calamity. He lists the rest in the "Thank You" section.
But on Calamity, Brown has created something far denser and more layered than anyone in that camp ever has. The disc bounces back and forth from bombastic to sincere, and mostly the latter. Sometimes Brown rides the line—most successfully on the album's best cut, "No, My Generation," a rootsy Brit-pop number, in which his vocal carries the classic UK timbre of The Charlatans singer Tim Burgess.
Other standout tracks include "Coattails," into which Brown injects a country verse. And when the chorus arrives, we see his biggest strength: his sense of melody. His capability as a lyricist isn't far behind—although he occasionally sacrifices sincerity for style. Lyrics about getting strung out ("My First Love, Maria") come off as a stretch, given Brown's fresh face and obvious penchant for The Rolling Stones.
But Calamity's strengths far outweigh its weaknesses. And thanks to the memorable hooks that fill the record, Brown shows himself here as a young artist with great potential.