Newcomer Brooke Barrettsmith is here to make her mark on the music world. Signed to Essential Records,
her self-titled debut is produced by Aaron Sprinkle (Anberlin, The Almost) and Rob Hawkins (Fireflight). The production
muscle itself is impressive, without taking into account the fact that she is signed up to one of the largest Christian
music labels in the industry. All this points to what should be an impressive, or at least likeable, entry into CCM rock.
Album single "Farewell" is easily the highlight of the album, with an almost "epic" feel from the way Barrettsmith
delivers it, in a style slightly reminiscent of Firelight's "Unbreakable." "Quiet My Heart" is one of the few reflective
moments on the album, delivering its message nicely; "Quiet Streets" is another fine example of this artist's talent on the
other end of the spectrum, with an overall feel that makes its title seem rather oxymoronic. The closer, "Paper Tigers,"
also carries a little of the epic feel that "Farewell" shares, but tones it down with the piano dominating, instead of the
driving electric guitars present elsewhere on the album. This makes for a fitting conclusion, despite a feeling
of ambiguity that is left as to what meaning the "paper tigers" were meant to convey.
Brooke Barrettsmith's self-titled debut has its highlights, but the simplicity coupled with its similarity to other Christian rock
bands hinders what could have otherwise been a great album. Still, there's plenty of room for growth here, and the album
gives the listener the feeling that Brooke is more than capable of maturing her musical style significantly with subsequent
releases. Nevertheless, it would have been nice to have seen the musical maturity displayed here, because, as it is, this
album is an oddly thrown-together mix of brilliance and monotony, sometimes relying on the aggressiveness of the guitar
riffs to gain attention, rather than melodic skill.
- PReview date: 5/28/08, Review date: 8/11/08, written by Adam Dawson for Jesusfreakhideout.com
With her debut on Essential Records, newcomer Brooke Barrettsmith
puts forth yet another "chick rock" album. Brooke's voice is definitely the highlight of the album, with the
strength of Krystal Meyers, the vulnerability of Dawn Richardson, and the angst of Hayley Williams,
all rolled up into one perfect package. However, the songs featured on her self-titled debut rarely showcase
those amazing pipes, but the few that do ("Farewell," "Paper Tigers") are the high points of the album.
But that's where the praise must stop. Every one of the ten tracks on this record could easily be compared
to something else. For example, "More Real" could have been a b-side for Krystal Meyers's debut,
"Farewell" matches Kelly Clarkson, more than a few sound nearly identical to FireFlight, and the harder rock songs
like "Quiet Streets" sound like Paramore or BarlowGirl. Brooke definitely has a good thing going for her, but
with a lack of originality to identify her, and borrowing too heavily from other already popular artists, it seems that she's
jumped onto the bandwagon a little too late.
- Matthew Watson of Jesusfreakhideout.com