Brian Charles Tischleder – “Momma Told Me So” – the struggle to retain humanity

Influenced by the likes of Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen, Brian Charles Tischleder’s brand of folk flavored rock n’ roll, on the album “Momma Told Me So”, forges visceral, intense and exuberant musical pieces, for a generation trapped in destructive and turbulent times. While it’s deep, and affective, and sonically first-rate, it’s the attention to detail, and Tischleder’s top-notch vocals, that really won me over. The melodies, together with Brian’s quivering, muscular voice, creates a full-blooded, rumbling and grounded feeling. Yet at the same time, many of the songs have heavenly gospel-like harmonies and instrumental embellishments that give the tracks a soaring momentum.

This creates a real sense of balance, and contributes to the album’s overriding theme of hopefulness, and optimism for the future, combined with the understanding of angst, despair and its limits. It’s a voice warm and full of wonder and heartbreaking melodies. Few singers sound this captivated with their own work, as Brian Charles Tischleder does.

Right from the opening title track, “Momma Told Me So”, the voice, the drums, the pianos, and the guitars are joined at the hip, dependent on each other for survival. Rarely has music flowed together like this. By the time you run by “Cold Night Air” and “Memphis”, you will realize how the arrangements are complex, and yet they retain a sincere sense of innocence.

with the defeat of idealism, the struggle to retain one’s humanity in the face of our chaotic technological world, and the battle against the all-too-easy retreat into irony,  these songs are full of greatness. The melodies are beautifully layered upon each other, as reams of nifty production add even more to the amazing textures.

“I hate you. You hate me. That’s just the way they want us to be.” The beautiful resonance of Brian Charles Tischleder’s voice says it all on “Dog On A Chain”, and is a perfect foil for the organic orchestration. The lyrics seem deceptively simple, but the storytelling yields many revelations after repeated listening, track after track.

Tischleder’s heartfelt voice fragments in ruptures on “In Your City”, as he clings closely to the piano motifs and strumming acoustic guitar. He gets even more breathy and vulnerable on “South Dakota”, and makes it sound so sincere, gorgeous and convincing.

Impactful vocals can raise a good album into greatness, or it can obscure good music and make it unlistenable. In a singer-songwriter album like this, Brian Charles Tischleder’s work lifts excellent music up to classic status. Listen to his tone and texture on “Walking On A Wire”, the depth in a mid-tempo swing on “Carnival Song”, the soaring voice on the chorus of “Lost Highway”.

There’s so much breadth and depth in Tischleder’s performances it could almost be overwhelming, yet it works so well. This album is absolutely brilliant. It’s written, played, sung, arranged and produced with full-throttle power and passion.

“Momma Told Me So” is a hell of a way to lead us towards the last year of this decade. These songs have a sweeping ambition to them, as they deal with the complexities of human existence. It’s one of those albums that functions better when listed to, and experienced in its entirety. Like his peers, Brian Charles Tischleder belongs to a rare breed of conscious singer-songwriters. Do yourself a favor – give this one a spin.


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