When Brooks Forsyth namedrops Ramblin’ Jack Elliott during the opening (and title) track “So Much Beyond Us,” his good taste gets our immediate attention. Then when he follows this lyrical aside 10 more fine country songs, he keeps us glued to his strong, conversational country songs. Forsyth may not make music as sparse and raw as Elliott, but his album includes plenty of recognizable and rewarding Americana sonic elements. These range from the comforting banjo picked along with “Anna Lee,” to the fiddle-augmented swing of “Seasick James.” “Seasick James” is a story song with a Levon (The Band) Helm-like lead vocal.
One called “Restless at Home, Lonesome on The Road” recalls the old Singing Brakeman, Jimmie Rodgers. Its lyric describes an all too common problem among musicians. They don’t know what to do with themselves with time on their hands at home, so they hit the road only to encounter sometimes crippling lonesomeness. When it comes to touring, they’re damned if they do, but damned if they don’t.
Forsyth closes his album with “Heaven Is but Going Home,” which is the sort of semi-spiritual, extremely philosophical song Townes Van Zandt used to write. It finds Forsyth thinking out loud over an arrangement that includes a churchy organ part. It’s the perfect way to close out a strong set of heartfelt country songs.