Brooke Surgener – Moon Waves

 Brooke Surgener – Moon Waves

Brooke Surgener – Moon Waves – Album Review

At this point here…right now, at the very moment you’re reading this for the first time, Brooke Surgener thinks that I’ve forgotten all about her.  Shhhhh – don’t spoil the surprise…you might even be reading this review before she is!  Trust me when I tell ya, the last thing I’d ever forget is music worth listening to…I’ve been in the background, in the shadows, in the trenches…I keep my ear to the ground.  It just takes me forever to get to some of the stuff I actually wanna hear & tell ya about the most sometimes – but I’d never forget the likes of this incredible artist, I can promise you that.  Merry Christmas Brooke!

While it’s fair to say that she had me at hello way back when I first started listening in February of this year when I reviewed her breakout single “Gimme Gimme” – she did it all over again when I pushed play on Moon Waves and the exquisitely beautiful melody of “Vagabond” started up.  I’m all about singers that have an undeniable gift for melody and have an attachment to their material that’s impossible to miss, and that’s exactly what Brooke is built with.  You listen to a song like “Vagabond” and you know that music actually means something to her…these aren’t just more tunes from another artist – she’s a genuinely special find…a true diamond within the rough of the independent scene that can’t help but stand out.  Honestly, it didn’t even take ten seconds into listening to “Vagabond” before I knew she was about to knock this whole album straight outta the park – LISTEN to her amazing voice will ya?  You don’t stumble across a Brooke Surgener every single day, I assure ya.  Even people like myself that are fully immersed in the scene, listening to music at all hours of each day…we know that someone like Brooke is the rarest of finds, and that she’s got everything it takes to make this dream into her reality.  You listen to a song like “Vagabond” and you can hear the heart in it – she was destined to make music.

“I Hate You The Least” Brooke Surgener…and that’s why you’re posted up here on Christmas Day my friend.  I’ve had a wonderful time listening to your music this year, and I’m completely grateful to have crossed paths with ya, even if it’s a million miles away and just in the online realm.  I wrote about this song back in August, and probably gushed about it I’m sure…I don’t often go back into the things I write, but I always stand behind every word.  I do go back to the songs I listen to though, if I like’em that is…and “I Hate You The Least” also happens to be one of the singles I hated the least this year too.  It’s a freakin’ wonderful song, brilliantly written, and I can’t imagine Brooke getting even 5% more out of the performance she’s put into it.  She nailed it from start to finish, it’s a beautiful moment in music, and a truly unforgettable song…which is impressive for how mellow it really is.  Read about it more by clicking right here.

As you’ve read here already, “Gimme Gimme” was the first track I’d ever heard from Surgener, and it’s generally the first track I’d still point to that basically proves how exceptional she really is.  I think it’s a stellar example of the crossover potential & power she’s got as an artist.  Is “Gimme Gimme” on the sweeter side of Pop?  Heck ya it is!  Is that usually my taste?  Look…I’m not saying that it isn’t, or couldn’t be on the right day by the right artist…I guess that’s what Brooke proves here actually, because I thought this single came out perfectly too, and was about 100% more addictive than I would have ever thought it’d be on paper.  She’s just got that aura of a genuine soul & a true artist combined…you sprinkle in some shiny Pop hooks into the mix here on “Gimme Gimme” and Surgener becomes irresistible.  While I’d love to tell ya that’s an opinion, I’m fairly certain that’s transcended into facts, and universally shared between us all – it’s still the reigning champion on her Spotify page for most spins.

So…trust me…I get it…I know what you’re reading, and I know how it sounds – but I assure ya, there’s a reason that I’m tellin’ ya Brooke’s music is that amazing, and it’s completely because she’s special in that way that hits different y’all…and you’ll be able to hear it yourself when you have a listen.  To me, if you put on a track like “Black Coffee,” you can’t miss it – she’s significantly gifted when it comes to her songwriting, her ability to express herself in music, her uncanny way of stirring emotions and pulling the heartstrings…all the X-factors are there.  Sometimes she’ll make ya smile like she does on a song like “Gimme Gimme,” and sometimes she’ll make ya sad on a track like “Black Coffee” – but what makes her magical is that you genuinely WANT to listen to her in whatever mood or gear she’s writing in.  For myself personally, I tend to gravitate towards emotional melodies and the sadder side of music…so for me, “Black Coffee” is right around where I’m at – and when I say sad, let’s be clear…it’s not a song that’s without hope or entirely desolate, there are plenty of beautiful moments within this self-reflective tale.  As much as I might recognize the single-worthy vibes of a song like “Gimme Gimme” all day long, when it comes to the depth of Moon Waves, you can’t help but recognize it’s songs like “Vagabond” and “Black Coffee” that speak even more loudly on behalf of her art overall, and by the most delicate means.

Shout-out to the music as well.  I know I tend to tune in to listen to Brooke’s voice, because she could sing us the phonebook if she wanted to, and you’d never find me complaining – but the music on this record is a huge aspect of what makes Moon Waves remarkable.  The hooks you’ll find on “For My Dog” are wonderful…and as a more generalized comment, you’ll find that what you hear throughout this album really does inspire the best to come out of Brooke’s vocals, no matter what song you choose.  It’s a COMPLETE record dear readers, dear friends…you simply won’t find a bad song on this album or one that you don’t want to repeat over and over.  The radiant sweetness of a song like “For My Dog” is practically incomparable…and if you happen to be a dog lover, you know how true the words are.  People can suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck…but the love of a dog is everlasting, and usually feels so much better than the way humans communicate it.  Brooke’s being completely grateful for the life she’s leading on “For My Dog” and proves that the best things in life really are for free.  Our most faithful companions are proof of that…the connection we share with them, is priceless – and while I don’t know how she’s gone & done it, Surgener has detailed that sweetness perfectly in the words of “For My Dog.”

Nearing the five-minute mark, “Tidal Waves” is the longest track on Moon Waves, but inarguably one of the most beautiful moments to be found as well.  Brooke’s ability to create melodies that’ll melt your heart is second to none I tell ya, and she’ll prove that on “Tidal Waves.”  Giving this track a slightly orchestral touch to it and drawing out an epic boldness within what could have been a really quaint and low-key tune, this is the perfect example of how Surgener is able to find a way to get more out of a song than most artists ever do.  She knows how to use every part of a tune to her advantage…you feel the words, you feel the vocals, you feel the music – and recognize how incredible every aspect is individually, but you also feel the combination of how everything comes together and creates something even more special through the sum of its parts.  That’s a really roundabout way of saying she’s an amazing songwriter and executes on a professional level, but it’s true all the same.  She’s been in the game & releasing music online as far back as 2018 as far as I can tell…but you listen to a moment like the way she hits the hooks around the 2:35 mark on “Tidal Waves” and you know her connection to music has been a lifelong affair.  Some folks are born with it inside of them, just searching for a way to let it out into the world, and Brooke’s one of’em…her natural talent is enchanting, mesmerizing, and 100% charming to the nth degree.  The finale of “Tidal Waves” is breathtakingly beautiful to listen to, full stop.

While she never quite falls off the bandwagon into the Country-side of sound, you can always hear a hint of the potential she’s got in that regard too.  “Swear Jar” brings it out the most, but trust me, it’s something you can hear in her voice in just about every song.  I’m thankful she’s making a style of music that I’m more than proud to listen to…but I recognize that if she wanted to pack up her things and move over to the Country stations, she’d be able to take that whole scene by storm in a virtual heartbeat.  Surgener’s relentlessly impressive though, no matter how you slice it…whether it’s in a bigger moment like “Tidal Waves” or in a more intimate performance like you find on “Swear Jar,” she finds the right energy and the right gear to be in.  Songs like “Swear Jar” are surprisingly multi-layered too when it comes right down to it…I mean it’s got its central theme/metaphor at the heart of it all, but it’s also a track that’s about commitment and following through with your words as well, in addition to being a love song as well.  It’s quality stuff from concept to execution…and let’s be real here – if Surgener has only been rocking since around 2018, she’s gotta be over the Moon Waves at just how incredible her new record came out…this is full proof of her place in music & the fact that she belongs in the spotlight.

“Dirty Girl” is freakin’ spectacular.  It’s like Brooke has managed to pack in a whole cabaret show within this one tune, and this is another one of those key spots where you realize just how incredibly strong her songwriting really is.  She’s clearly all kinds of successful in the context of writing this record, but it’s tracks like “Dirty Girl” that confirm she could go on to write theatre plays, musical productions, and/or tunes for other people as well…she’s got capabilities she ain’t even tapped into yet y’all, mark my words.  “Dirty Girl” is a stellar piece of songwriting that deals directly with self-confidence, the perception of who we are from our own eyes and the eyes of others, and how we all know ourselves underneath the surface better than anyone out there ever will.  Listen to Brooke light this song up around the 2:40 mark though will ya?  That’s a huge highlight for her right there…and you better believe that’s a real crowd-pleasin’ moment within this song when she plays it live…I don’t know that for a fact, I just know it to be true.  I don’t know that Brooke’s made it to Canada yet, so I haven’t seen her play – but I do know what that time-stoppin’ moment in a song sounds like, and she’s got a couple in “Dirty Girl” that are certain to drop some jaws, get people clappin’ and dancin’ along…it’s dynamic, versatile, and authentically fun too.  At the heart of it all, is insightful writing that really peels back the layers of who we are, what we accept, how perception works, and what we choose to show the world…there’s more to this “Dirty Girl” than meets the eye, and chances are you’re going to discover it’s not only relevant, but equally relatable.

As far as the sweetness of Surgener’s music is concerned, “Be Your Babe” brings it out the most without a doubt.  I know what you’re thinking…didn’t that happen on “Gimme Gimme” already?  That song got ya close, but “Be Your Babe” will fly ya right into the sun there Icarus, trust me.  She’s got this love song drippin’ in audible honey, but what keeps me completely amazed about Brooke’s music is the way she sings it all so naturally…none of this feels contrived, forced, or anything less than completely real.  Again, that should tell ya something about how significantly special Surgener is as an artist.  Think about it – as singers/songwriters, artists & bands…we all have to perform on repeat…but when it comes to really making a moment transfer the magic we want it to, you have to find a way to make each performance feel as real as when it was first created.  I feel like Brooke’s got that gift…that even on the hundredth time you’ll hear her sing a song, it’ll still contain the same magic as the day she wrote it – because she’s got an exceptional understanding of what makes music connect each of us together.  And perhaps that’s what’s got me amazed about the more noticeably Pop side of her catalog like “Be Your Babe” or “Gimme Gimme” – there’s an astounding level of sincerity that comes with her music that you just don’t find in the genre all that often.  When you do, you know you’ve found something special and something real you can believe in…Brooke’s got heart within her music you know you can rely on to reveal itself.

All this good stuff I’ve written…which is ALL justified mind you…and yet, here we are, at track ten, and Brooke’s songs are every bit as exceptional this deep into Moon Waves as when the record first began.  “Best Friends” has got that tangible sweetness and audible glow to it that’s warm and inviting…the kind of sound you just want to wrap yourself up in, and sing along with by the fire in the midst of winter.  A lot of the time, I find I’m every bit as impressed by Brooke’s vocalizations…just the natural sound of her voice singing when she’s not even using words, but really feeling the melodies within her music.  I also think that’s one of the spots that requires a lot of courage as a singer…we can often shy away from these kinds of moments, because we’re not really saying anything…but those that know how to use these moments right, know that in other ways, we’re actually saying EVERYTHING without a single word.  All that being said, when she is using words to her advantage, you know that “Best Friends” is the kind of song that can’t be written without actually BEING the person you hear behind the lyrics…this is where you realize that the heart of Brooke Surgener is what leads her to such undeniably sincerity in her music.  This is another outstandingly beautiful track on the record that really speaks volumes on behalf of her true character…great songwriting will only take an artist so far, but you can’t fake a moment like this.

As she finishes off Moon Waves with “Washington State” and an assist from Good Morning Bedlam, it’d be impossible not to acknowledge how Surgener has gone for a perfect eleven out of eleven in this lineup…you simply couldn’t ask for anything more than exactly what she’s put into every second of this record – and she should be mighty proud of that achievement.  There are singles, there are deep cuts, there are powerfully moving, emotionally-provocative tunes, and plenty of lighthearted moments to be found as well.  “Washington State” was a stellar conclusion to it all…a real highlight for the togetherness you feel within the music and the way that Brooke’s music makes you feel a bit more connected to the world, which is certainly enhanced by the inclusion of Good Morning Bedlam in this collaboration.  I’ve been sitting on this record for quite a while longer than I should have been, waiting for the right moment to reveal my thoughts…a way to communicate my own sincerity, and prove that this isn’t just another record being listened to in the life of a music-critic, but more than that.  Christmas Day seemed like the right way to do that, and so here we are…this is absolutely one of the best audible presents you can give yourself.  Brooke Surgener’s Moon Waves is without a doubt one of the most exceptional albums I’ve heard in 2022…the kind of record I’ll easily still be listening to ten years from now, and for the rest of my life.  This is music you want to be a part of the soundtrack of your life, and I’m completely thankful that it’s been a part of mine already…I figured the right thing to do is share that magic with ya.

Merry Christmas Brooke Surgener – you’ve made the world a better place with this new record of yours.

Find out more about Brooke Surgener at her official website:

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