“Some days I just like to sit outside under the sun with my guitar and sing my songs to myself. It relaxes me. It also reminds me of what my songs are about.”

This Bjork’s quote, concerning the release of “Tres Dias” back in 2007, indicates what he really is: a true and free music spirit, unconstrained by conventional perceptions and must-haves, writing music for his own pleasure. No matter how simple his music has always been (by no means naive though), staying irrelevant to unnecessary complexities and mannerisms, it has that unique and peculiar property that is hardly to be found out there: it talks to the heart. Bjork uses his albums as a communicating channel to teach us his mellow attitude towards life, encouraging us to leave problems and worries behind and meditate under the bright tranquility of the desert.

He has been teaching for around 20 years as a solo musician. His principles are the same, being straightforward lessons of how a human should be cool and free. However, it is his music that differs occasionally, to indicate a wide range of tastes. Indeed, his long discography includes albums that -despite their simplicity- are not alike to each other: funky and soul-based (where a jazzy approach can be seen), acoustic and laid-back, or more stoner / groovy oriented, they reveal a genuine rocker, who became a cornerstone of his genre, without ever pursuing wide acceptance and recognition.

Bjork has always been prolific, but after 2015 his creativity climaxed, offering us a new release every year (exempting last year’s “Jacoozzi”, a shelved jamming session recorded a decade ago). Recently, his new, self-titled album became available via Heavy Pysch Sounds. This time he chose to work again as a solo artist, recording all the instruments by himself, without the support of his Low Desert Punk Band, as in previous albums.

In the record that bears his name, Bjork deviates from his recent releases, aiming to somehow revisit his early -prior to “Punk Rock Guilt”- era. The album retains the familiar, warm desert sound of its creator. However, its essence is not so heavy, or “electrified”, adopting a more relaxing and laid-back approach. The image of desert unfolds through a pathway that encircles Bjork’s debut “Jalamanta”, mixing occasionally stoner, dusty riffs with funky, ethnic, blues and 70s classic rock elements.

The orientation of “Brant Bjork” is instantly seen in its opener: “Jungle in the Sound” embraces you with its intimate, organic, stoner sound. Just a simple riff, accompanied by tribal percussion and Brant’s warm voice, suffices to make you indulge in its calmness and rock authenticity. “Mary (You’re Such a Lady)” features a more dynamic and repetitive rhythmic riffage, while “Jesus Was a Bluesman” visits classic rock norms (“Jesus was a bluesman, his daughter was his biggest fan: what a line!). Bjork adopts a more 70s rock attitude in “Cleaning Out The Astray” and plays with relaxing melodies in the groovy-based “Duke of Dynamite”.

However, he doesn’t forget to offer a more vivid, playful tempo in “Shitkickin’ Now”, a track adhering to the traditional Californian rock aesthetics. As for “Stardust & Diamond Eyes”, it might be a forgotten track of “Jalamanta”, written for those who prefer Brant’s funky aspect (however, I think that he has composed better funky songs in the past). “Been So Long” closes the album in a nostalgic tone: it’s only Bjork and his acoustic guitar, coming directly out of “Tres Dias” days, to remind us why we listen to him.

Bjork is a legend. He doesn’t have to prove anything and no one can criticize him. He is above everyone else, a gifted personality closely related to the Californian hot breeze. “Brant Bjork” is as it should be, after all these years of creativity: it is HIM, Bjork himself! Familiar, warm, traveling, comforting. Listen to it and all his works while you rest in your couch, at your yard, or at the seaside, drinking tequilas or beers (or you can mix them, if your imagination soars!). Bjork is freedom.

♦ 8/10

Alex Nikolaidis