Personnel: John Brannen (vocals, acoustic guitar, steel guitar, harmonica); John Brannen (acoustic 12-string guitar); Pete Carr (guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, steel guitar); Giles Reeves (strings, whistle, tin whistle, pipe, pipes, harmonium, drums); Clayton Ivey (grand piano, electric piano, Wurlitzer piano, Hammond b-3 organ); Paul Simmons (drums, percussion); Melissa Mattey (cello); Willie Weeks (bass guitar); Owen Hale (drums); Vicki Hampton, Robert Bailey (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Steve Melton.
Recording information: Blackbird Studios, Berry Hill, TN.
Photographer: Peter Grant .
On singer/songwriter John Brannen's fourth album, he combines rootsy arrangements with a handful of solid songs to create a wise record that doesn't forget to rock. His sound and approach, as some critics have noted, shows the influence of Bruce Springsteen and John Cougar Mellencamp without being derivative. Call it rock from America's heartland. "A Pair of Dice" tells the tale of a lucky gambler whose luck runs out when the devil comes to him "disguised, painted lips and pleading eyes." While this might look like another song about another woman doing a man wrong, the lyric never spells everything out and Brannen delivers the piece with gusto. "Lookin' Good" rolls along with a nice rhythmic base, guitars and bass chugging along as the protagonist pines over his good-looking Ex. Brannen's joined by a talented band including guitarist Pete Carr, pianist Clayton Ivy, bassist Willie Weeks, and drummer Owen Hale, allowing for full-bodied arrangements. There's also liberal use of background singers, as on "Lost Angels," giving the choruses a little something extra. The Good Thief will appeal to fans of the above-mentioned singers, and will be a much welcomed return to form for fans who recall Brannen's debut, Mystery Street. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.