In the visually stunning music video for Brooks Forsyth’s latest single, “Cast My Dreams to the Wind,” the North Carolina-born singer/songwriter proves that keeping it simple often yields the most decadent results when it comes to making smart folk music. Forsyth presents himself as that quintessential “man with a guitar” in this track, and expands upon a traditional framework using little more than his own creative intuitions found throughout the album that it was cut from, So Much Beyond Us. There’s been no shortage of exciting young talent to emerge from the underground this season, but in this artist we find a dynamic poet who has found the perfect means of channeling his brilliantly evocative prose, and furthermore, the ultimate counterpart to share a stage with in his six-stringed companion.
Forsyth’s lyrics are the most dominant force to be reckoned with in So Much Beyond Us, and most every song is built around the virtuosity of his heartfelt verses. The rollicking folk-rocker “Seasick James” has one of the catchiest hooks to behold in the tracklist, while more subtle swingers like “Blue Railroad Train,” “Anna Lee” and the strutting “Restless at Home, Lonesome on the Road” stretch out their climactic moments to maximize the blissful catharsis that Forsyth is so keenly adept at dispensing. He never stacks his chips on one side of the table over the other, but there’s no question that he’s grown into his own as a lyricist. There’s no immaturity in his poetry, nor is there even the faintest allusion to hesitance or inhibition.
“Girl from Caroline” and the title track have wondrous wordplay sewn into their seductive rhythms, but to me, they felt a little more instrumentally-centered than the other songs on the record did. “Little Coal Mining Town,” “Heaven is but Going Home” and “Ain’t Got the Time” deliver some of the crispest vocals that I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing all year long, and as engrossing as their melodic string grooves undisputedly are, Forsyth puts so much of himself into the execution of the verses that it’s difficult to pay attention to anything else going on in the individual tracks. The video for “Cast My Dreams to the Wind,” in this sense, encapsulates the duality that So Much Beyond Us was designed to celebrate, without ever overstating its theme.
There’s plenty of great music worth getting excited about right now, but Brooks Forsyth’s So Much Beyond Us stands out as a one of a kind slab of Americana that appeals to country, folk and indie rock fans alike. In forging his heavenly hybrid, Forsyth has found a unique formula that borrows a little from every chapter of the American songbook without recycling the framework of his predecessors’ sound to the point of being another hipster throwback artist. He’s laying down some very engaging music in this latest album, and experimenting with the stylization of his craft in a way that a lot of his closest rivals wouldn’t ever dream of doing. Only time will tell for sure, but I think that Forsyth is on the right path towards breaking into the mainstream once and for all.