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RE-INVENTING THE CLASSICS: I am going to cut to the chase. If you love sophisticated music-making that draws from the deep well of 60s and 70s classic pop-rock, then you must get yourself a copy of Brad Brook‘s new LP – Harmony of Passing Light. Brooks is a San Francisco singer-songwriter who may well have delivered the finest album of his life. Well certainly, Brooks’ album will sit comfortably alongside his avowed influences viz. Elvis Costello, Wilco, Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) and Queen. What truly shines through is the sheer range of styles and ‘genres’ that Brooks employs – nothing is utilized for effect alone – instead, every stylistic choice enhances the strong songwriting in evidence. Imagine your favourite 60s and 70s music being distilled into a heady brew that is at once sweet and sharp and you might just have a grasp of what Brooks has achieved here. My personal favourites (and believe me, I am digging every single track) would include the opening authentic R&B-inflected “Calling Everyone”. The sitar embellishment keeps the pop footing steady as Brook’s blue-eyed soul evocation of the likes of Todd Rundgren and Daryl Hall is a distinctive joy to behold. High on my list as well is the baroque “Night Fades” with its Zombies/Left Banke-referencing chamber pop twists and turns. The banjo and string quartet arrangements do turn one’s mind to Brian Wilson’s singular music visions though, it must be said. No mean feat! Elsewhere, “Exemplary Girl” brings Beatlesque psychedelic rock channeling to its logical conclusion with melodic hooks coming at you left, right and centre, in particular the revolving violins! The obligatory faux-classical piano ballad comes at the end with “Grand Manner” but true to the 70s singer-songwriter tradition, this comes with genuine pathos and an erudite charm that will stir hearts and place lump firmly in throat. Believe me, folks, the delights come at every milestone on this brilliant album. No exaggeration to say in an age of throwaway pop, Brooks has concocted a mini pop masterpiece that gives true pop music lovers that there may still be hope for us yet. Essential listening.