From the brooding dispatches of its title track to the hollow-point harmonies of “Heaven is but Going Home,” Brooks Forsyth’s So Much Beyond Us has got a fiery core that is bound to raise some eyebrows this spring, and it’s picking up some pretty impressive accolades from critics and fans alike at the moment thanks to the release of the music video for its featured single, “Cast My Dreams to the Wind.” Forsyth is going bigger and bolder than he ever has before in this video and its parent album, and if you weren’t aware of his inventive talents prior to now, I think that you’re going to be looking for more once you give either of these cuts a go.
Hollywood-quality shots make it hard for me to determine which is more engaging in the video for “Cast My Dreams to the Wind;” the soundtrack or its star performer, who has a charisma that extends well beyond his smoke-stained vocal in this song. Compared to “Anna Lee” and “Ain’t Got the Time,” “Cast My Dreams to the Wind” is one of the more multifaceted songs on So Much Beyond Us, but it doesn’t translate as cluttered or overdone here. Forsyth doesn’t waste our time with a lot of silly props in this video; he wants us to feel the depth of his narrative as much as we hear it in his words, which leaves little room for excessive superfluities.
There’s a progressive nuance to the tracklist in So Much Beyond Us that I really enjoy, but I wouldn’t call it an all-out concept piece. “Seasick James” bleeds right into “Don’t Come Around No More” in the same way that the brittle harmonies in “Restless at Home, Lonesome on the Road” prep us for the wailing wallop of “Little Coal Mining Town,” and despite the fluidity of the material, Forsyth never repeats a beat as we move from one song to the next.
The first half of the album has a warmer feel than the second half does, and in the big picture it yields a tension as we listen to each track that is only released in the climactic finish we find in “Heaven is but Going Home.” The latter act in So Much Beyond Us is marred with mischievousness and a sense of danger lurking around every corner (i.e. the deceptively chilling major key melody of “Blue Railroad Town”), but even at this record’s most angular, it never devolves into over the top theatrics.
So Much Beyond Us is a game-changer for Brooks Forsyth. In more ways than one, it evolves his sound and brings his style into the primetime without forcing him to abandon his hard-earned street cred, which has gotten him this far in the journey and provided him the ultimate platform to launch this LP from. The fans will be the final judge, but as far as I’m concerned, this is an album than any diehard Americana buff would be an absolute fool to ignore this year.