Rarely, has there been a singer-songwriter who has had such a profound affect on my earbuds and I would even go as far as to say my life as Bryan John Appleby. Yes, this is how strongly I feel about his work and more specifically his newest release Fire on the Vine. A phenomenal catalog of powerful wordsmithing combined with moving modern folk music, Fire on the Vine sends shivers up and down my spine and tugs at my heartstrings.
In the extremely emotional “Honey Jars” Bryan John Appleby’s vivid storytelling unravels with a soft sincerity culminating with a sense of profound love and loss in the last lines: “Now your honey jars are frozen/ And in the window your books have browned/ And, there’s too much room inside our bed/ I think I’ll join you in the ground.” Sadness saturates “Backseat” with a sense of missing and a hint of regretting about leaving a life and people behind to search for more. But, it’s the heart-rending “The Lake” that is painfully tragic and I find it hard to hold back the tears every time I hear lines like: “Wife and daughter caught weeping out on the water/ When the storm fell heavy on the lake/ And the waves pulled them down/ … But, my brother don’t let your lantern darken/ Don’t be afraid for them/ Oh, my friend there is nothing on the other side/ We’ll grow old and plant for them a garden/ When the growing is done we’ll plunge like a stone and join them in the tide.” The song’s added percussion adornments make it all the more haunting and spectral.
I can’t say enough about Appleby’s amazing songwriting. This man has a way of writing words that stick with you long after listening to his songs and the song that has stuck with me like a second skin since Fire on the Vine‘s first spin is “The Words of the Revelator.” The rollicking banjo and piano jam brings some power folk-rock to the album. A track that has purpose and intent – purpose and intent to resonate with its extraordinary music and lyrics. The strong lyrics have an urgent tone which give the song meaning and weight causing a line like “And, I said, you/ You will not dig a hole in me/ You will not chop down my tree/ Or hold me under the water” to echo throughout the day…Weeks, even.
Fire on the Vine is a tear-stained, folk revelation that exhibits Appleby’s awe-inspiring level of lyrical acumen, and, because of this, Bryan John Appleby has become one of my favorite new artists and Fire on the Vine has become one of my favorite albums of the year.