The word “idiosyncratic” is thrown around a lot in music reviews, and as such it has lost much of its meaning. But there isn’t another word is, really, to describe Sweet Earth Flower: A Tribute to Marion Brown, by Warren Defever, better known to music fans as the creative force behind His Name Is Alive.
Defever, the pride of Livonia, Michigan, started his music career in the psychobilly outfit Elvis Hitler, built his parents’ home into a recording studio, and has produced recordings for everybody from Yoko Ono to Iggy and the Stooges. Though Defever’s credentials as both a musician and producer are widely varied, nothing in His Name Is Alive’s previous recordings points toward free jazz. It is only with Sweet Earth Flower that the connection becomes apparent. Defever has constantly strove to grow as a musician, and Marion Brown shares the same artistic point of view. Though Sweet Earth Flower is a departure from Defever’s other artistic output, it fits into his catalog as proof that he is unafraid follow his muse down drastically different avenues.
That being said, Sweet Earth Flower: A Tribute to Marion Brown is pretty much a vanity album for His Name Is Alive. The project was conceived as a single concert for the University of Michigan art museum. There was such an enthusiastic response to the initial concert that Defever decided to put the songs on record. But fans looking for typical His Name Is Alive songs moniker will find themselves treated to a unexpected listening experience.