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Carl Broemel – All Birds Say

on September 13, 2010, 7:58am

For a better part of the decade, My Morning Jacket has been synonymous with the evolving rock revival emanating from Appalachia. MMJ’s performances are laden with long instrumentals and, of course, Jim James’ distinct vocals. So, it is somewhat surprising that when guitarist Carl Broemel unleashed his second solo album, All Birds Say, it turned out to be an organic, warm folk album, rather than the psychedelic roots rock that has defined his band. Recorded mostly in Nashville over the past four years, Broemel made the record with his friends Teddy Morgan and Richard Medek, the three producing, engineering, and performing. All three are active musicians, so sessions were done on the fly, in fits and starts, though amidst friendly jam sessions. However, once he had six completed songs, Broemel decided to finish the record.

Most of the songs here deviate very little. It’s a simple formula: excellent musicianship that compliments Broemel’s gentle voice. However, one standout track arrives with the very inviting, “Different People”, which opens with some horns that keep you lifted throughout the entire track. Although the lyrics aren’t dense, the beautiful harmony is hard to ignore.

On “Carried Away”, one of the first tracks Broemel penned for the trio, its lyrical content satiates the mind, taking you on a provoking stoll. When Broemel croons, “Just another walk on the pavement/leaves no tracks and no trails/I saw in other hands and my own/all the things that can’t be held,” it’s so sincere and open to Broemel’s state of mind that you feel comfortable enough to stick around. Another interesting take is “Retire”, which, as the title suggests, focuses on folks that have recently retired. But what makes this song interesting is the perspective offered. Broemel sings from the point of view of his parents, who have been divorced for many years, yet continue to live divergent, but ironically similar lives as they settle into their golden years. This is best demonstrated at the end of the song, when, after telling their tale, Broemel softly sings “retire, retire” until the song fades out.

All Birds Say is a record you can turn to on a summer evening and enjoy while sitting on the front porch, preferably while enjoying a drink. Broemel’s vocals have a nice country twang that, oddly enough, isn’t befitting for many mainstream country albums. It’s his voice and choice of instruments—steel guitar and autoharp being the most interesting—that make this feel like an album George Harrison would have made in the early ‘70s had he been living in Appalachia. How can you argue with that?

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