Greg Brown represents the very best in contemporary roots music. His voice is a worn gate, rusted but functional, not very pretty but part of a classic landscape. He has been making records since the ‘70s. His songs have been covered by everyone from Willie Nelson to Carlos Santana, Iris DeMent (his wife) to Joan Baez. Freak Flag was recorded in Memphis, after a lightning storm wiped out the sessions in Minneapolis. Brown sounds relaxed, despite the setbacks. His reliance on simple folk, country and blues structures give him an easy fallback plan and songs such as “I Don’t Know Anybody In This Town” (recalling the early work of Johnny Cash) and the countrified “Let the Mystery Be” are all the stronger for it. “Flat Stuff” is a stunner, a gentle fingerpicked ballad that’s dark and spooky like an ancient tune being sung by a man at the bottom of his luck. He’s sounding more and more like Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash, another aged veteran dispensing stories and wisdom to anyone willing to listen closely.