We’ve been carrying on a not-so-secret love affair with the poetry of Derrick Brown for a long-ass time. The one-time Spring Hill resident speaks to us in a way that’s embarrassingly personal, which means that we’ll drive as far as Cookeville to see one of his poetry revival shows. Thank god for that too, because if it was for him and the Write Bloody crew, we might be convinced that all poetry was designed to torment bored high school students and read by Garrison Keillor (those two things aren’t mutually exclusive from each other). Although Mr. Brown has long left Tennessee behind in favor of sunny Long Beach, we still keep an eye on what he’s up to–poetry or otherwise.
In this instance of “otherwise,” Night Reports is a project by Brown and Brooklyn musician Beau Jennings that dropped last week. Conceived as a “haunted sports musical,” Night Reports combines baseball with heartbreak (two more things that aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive). We would try to explain, but the lengthy description attached to the Bandcamp page does a much better job than we could since we don’t understand sports:
Things indeed started slowly, first with only the most basic instrumental and vocal ideas traded as mp3’s via email. Then there were fully formed acapella songs left as voicemails with Dodgers games buzzing in the background. The goal was spontaneous inspiration captured immediately. Beau began for the first time to write music solely on piano, and Derrick began to write lyrics about a haunted baseball player whose ghost wouldn’t leave his bat until he broke it. The chance to write a type of haunted musical stretched the two performers who don’t like musicals and had never written themed music. By the time they placed an order for matching baseball uniforms, Night Reports was born.
The 11 songs on Night Reports’ debut album ‘You’re All Out’ outline the rise and fall, and boozy stumble, of the sort of athlete that confuses the girl with the championship. The more he falls for her, the worse he plays. The rousing “Are You Still Mined?” demands an answer from the desired trophy over clanging guitars, clobbered vocals and caveman drums; the slow and heartbreaking “Signal The Runner” swells with the answer, which calls violins and pedal steel heaving next to the piano. Country songstress Samantha Crain croons a duet on “Hang On Me Darlin’”, and Beau’s first true production effort was then handed over to Derrick’s old buddy and musical wizard Richard Swift (Secretly Canadian) for final mixing and mastering.
It’s spooky and occasionally sounds like Carissa’s Wierd, except about baseball and not whatever the hell Carissa’s Wierd was about, especially on “Hang On Me Darlin’.” You can buy the album for $9 on Bandcamp or you could just mooch it by streaming it.
// Photo by Lance Conzett.