Brian Pharaoh – “Sorry” single
Brian Pharaoh’s return to music after a thirteen year absence finds him wading into a crowded arena of contenders. Much has changed in the country music world since his 2003 debut and subsequent departure to serve in the United States military. The ascendency of pop country continues unchecked and, in many ways, the genre continues its march towards being indistinguishable from pop and light rock music. Other subgenres, like “bro country”, have come to the fore. Brian Pharaoh’s “Sorry”, on the surface, seems like it has a foot in each of the aforementioned camps. The song’s attitude towards women and the narrator’s love life is completely tongue in cheek, to be sure, but part of a certain school now, nonetheless. The drumming has impressive velocity and drives the track at a steady clip while crackling slide guitar whips out of the mix in scattered blasts. The cut’s catchy chorus and understated use of keyboards embeds important melodic qualities into its foundation that work with the drums to give it an unusual bounce to its mid tempo march.
The lyrics work better because of their specific detail. Pharaoh has some of storyteller’s best qualities and an eye for sketching character. It’s an episodic lyric that depends, like many jokes, on clichés, but Pharaoh has an instinct for comedic situations and light self-deprecation. His vocal sounds a little affected with an added whine at the end of many phrases that gives the song an extra boost of attitude. Words and, most importantly, tone mock the song’s subject with nasty relish. Pharaoh’s phrasing shows how comfortable he is with the role and relating his experience.
“Sorry” has a surprising amount of musical weight. Songs like this are often minimalist or breezy band efforts that rely solely on their comical strengths to impress the listener. Regardless of its subject, “Sorry” hits the ears with a great deal of conviction and confidence. It’s essentially a light blues rock song with barroom piano and slide guitar fills punctuating the progression. Pharaoh peppers the song with a couple of thrilling climaxes that he nails in a big way. The arrangement never tries reinventing the wheel but has an appealing inevitability that top notch musicians play on for everything its worth.
This is no instant classic, but it doesn’t need to be. Instead, this is a memorable reintroduction to an important talent remerging at last. Brian Pharaoh sounds ready and able to tackle the demands of music stardom while still retaining his passion for the art. “Sorry” speaks to the reality of everyday lives in a believable and funny way while still providing a substantive musical experience for more serious fans. It’s rare to find releases that satisfying these impulses in equal measure, but Brian Pharaoh is a rare talent.