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Eric Brace Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz

Profiles in Courage, Frailty, & Discomfort – 2017 (Red Beet)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Eric Brace Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz

Though not a super group in the strictest sense - at least as fast as marquee names are concerned - the union of Eric Brace, Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz is a formidable combination regardless. The outgrowth of informal collaborations undertaken over the past several years, this first formal billing allows equal input from each of the individuals involved.

First, a bit of background. Brace, owner of Red Beet Records, once led the alt.-country outfit Last Train Home. Cooper, a musician, journalist and educator, has lately become best known as a noted producer, songwriter and sideman. Jutz is exceptionally accomplished, earning a stellar reputation as a master musician and often the man behind the boards. All three have recorded in tandem, but the dubiously dubbed "Profiles in Courage, Frailty, & Discomfort" marks the first banding that gives all three collective credit.

Its title notwithstanding, "Profiles in Courage, Frailty, & Discomfort" is a remarkably humble affair, a collection of mostly low cast story songs credited equally from all three. The arrangements are relatively sparse, as befits a sound that taps a traditional template. Relying only on acoustic guitars and their hushed harmonies, Brace, Cooper and Jutz bring to mind Crosby, Stills & Nash circa the late sixties, when less was more and egos were, at least temporarily, firmly held in check. "If I Had a Nickel," "Hartford's Bend," "B&O Man" and "My Sally" allow for an archetypical embrace, all wistful reflection that's nostalgically sublime. The stories are tender and tranquil, reminiscent of melodies that might have been etched in some earlier era.

Consider this then a summit of sorts, a talented trio that doesn't feel the need to resort to excess or extravagance to prove their skill and savvy. That's the only perspective "Profiles" demands.