Brett Dennen hopes to continue success

Brandon Bills

Delivering hope for the hopeless in song is a tall order, but one that Brett Dennen is happy to fill.

Prior to this album landing in my hands, I had never heard of Dennen. A quick Google search proved my knowledge of up-and-coming folk rockers was lacking. Since his 2004 self-titled debut, Dennen has steadily built a reputation as a singer-song writer, touring in support of John Mayer, Ziggy Marley and Guster. He was recently named one of Rolling Stone’s “10 Artists To Watch.”

With the release of his third album, “Hope for the Hopeless,” Dennen seems poised to make his way into the national consciousness.

Depending on one’s level of cynicism, the album’s title is either highly appropriate for the time, or overly convenient when taking into consideration the rhetoric of the current presidential election. “Hope for the Hopeless” debuts Oct. 21, two weeks before election day.

Dennen’s style draws heavy comparison to Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson, but for me it was the occasional African groove, piano and organ pieces that made this album worthy of a second listen.

The album’s first single, “Make You Crazy,” features vocals by Femi Kuti, the award-winning Nigerian Afrobeat artist. Once you look past the catchy chorus and Kuti’s excellent backing vocals, you’ll find that Dennen is expressing his frustration with humankind’s inhumanity toward each other.

The next track, “Heaven,” delivers on the promised “hope” of the album’s title by offering Dennen’s view of heaven. “Heaven” immediately brings to mind John Lennon’s “Imagine.” “Heaven” aims to be the song that John Lennon would have written about heaven if he had believed such a place existed.

While Dennen’s lyrics shine, too many songs about unrequited love and sentimentality give the album a repetitious feel. Otherwise, “Hope for the Hopeless” is solid and inspiring.

If you enjoy relaxing folk-pop and are unaware of Brett Dennen as he once was, you should try Brett Dennen’s “Hope for the Hopeless.”