Album Review: Carl Broemel – All Birds Say – (ATO Records)

Album Reviews, Features, Music — By on August 19, 2010 8:50 pm

Solo album by My Morning Jacket guitarist drops Aug. 31

At first listen, Carl Broemel’s album, All Birds Say, is a classically-based composition that definitely respects the acoustic fashion of Sir Paul McCartney. One could also easily relate the lyrics to the wise and peaceful philosophies of George Harrison. Although the influences may shine through, this record is more than two of my four favorite Beatles in a blender, it’s genuine.

The album begins with the titled track, an instrumental piece that is mainly comprised of acoustic instruments simultaneously carrying a single melody. The heart of the song gently breaks into a calm, floating waltz. This charming transition is reminiscent of the lingering strings in the theme of The Band’s The Last Waltz.

The first lyrics are heard on “Life Left Over”, the second track: “I’m hot enough to melt some gold/you’re cooling down you just made a mountain of snow/ you’re curled up body heat /I’m driving home on an icy street.”

I was surprised to hear the similar tonal qualities that Broemel shares with fellow MMJ band mate and lead singer, Jim James — almost as if they were brothers. However, in clear contrast with James, the reverb on his vocal isn’t set to Roman Coliseum.

Broemel’s lyrics make it clear that his intent is to enlighten, not preach. He advocates happiness in the form of patience. On “Questions,” a simple phrase is casually repeated throughout: “You ask a lot of questions for someone who knows.”

The last song, “Retired” is a perfect farewell for this mellow, introspective record. Simple and captivating: “Weeds are growing in beds by the water/someone is swimming out in the harbor /a twinkling lighthouse is guiding a ship off to sea.”

All Birds Say is very much a cinematic record. It’s an eleven-song symphony, perfectly orchestrated. I believe it was made for travel; it can easily turn a quick trip into a relaxing, half hour cruise (or at least a swift journey to Starbucks).

Carl Broemel’s upcoming shows in support of All Birds Say:
9/1 – Nashville, TN – The Basement
10/7 – Indianapolis, IN -Radio Radio
10/9 – Chicago, IL – Schubas
10/20 – New York, NY – Joe’s Pub

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