Brett Dennen

I can’t say that I know a lot of really awesome 30-year-old redheaded musicians, but Brett Dennen clearly qualifies. Listening to him, you wouldn’t come within a million miles of guessing what he looks like. Usually when you first see the face that accompanies the voice you’ve been admiring for so long it’s like, “Oh. Yeah, that’s sort of what I expected I guess.” But with Dennen you’re all, “This guy? Are you serious?”


His vocal style is legitimately unique, a sort of jazzy folk twang that bends on certain vowels in a way that makes him sound extremely cool. I would’ve expected him to speak in a Memphis drawl, maybe wearing a black leather jacket and smoking clove cigarettes. His gait would be to the beat of the jukebox, which would have jolted to life immediately after Dennen’s having flipped a quarter across the room directly into the coin slot. Smooth, folks. Satin smooth. Elvis smooth. Arthur Fonzarelli smooth.

But that’s not the real Brett Dennen. Instead he’s this firetop with a slight lisp and a noggin like a Lego man. Not what I was expecting obviously, but in a lot of ways it was a relief. Normal, whitebread American Joes can make names for themselves, too. He’s an everyman’s idol. Well maybe not every man, but definitely the ones with red hair.

There’s no denying the music is folksy. Dennen is something of an activist, working for years on the Mosaic Project, which fosters diversity and universal understanding and love. So yeah, there’s clear idealistic undertones to the guy’s lyrics, and in some ways the instrumental aspect of his songs are pretty typically singer-songwriter with undertones of rock and blues.

But it’s that catchy vocal style that draws you in. He’s one of those guys that makes singing seem effortless. The high notes are high, and he’s belting them in his chest voice with ease. We pay money to see musicians do things that we simply can not do, and there are so many notes in his songs that my voice box simply can not reach. So, according to the transitive property, I should be paying my money to see him. Sometimes I love math.

If you’re looking for upbeat, likeable music, you should totally check out Ace of Base. When you’re done with them, though, Brett Dennen is like second best. I don’t think anybody’s going to hold the redhead thing against him.

Best Tracks:  “Make You Crazy,” “San Francisco,” “Wrong About Me,” “Ain’t Gonna Lose You,” “Ain’t No Reason,” “All We Have.”

Check out the album below:

If you like Brett Dennen, check out Owl City!

About the Author

Joel Brigham writes about stuff. It’s pretty much all he cares about. Stuff like music and more music. But he mostly cares about music. And also music.

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