88.1 WKNC’s Pick of the Week 9/3
By Charlie Burnett, WKNC DJ
Side projects by members of great bands tend to go one of two ways. Either they’re just as great as the actual band, like Wilco-offshoot Loose Fur, or bland and forgettable, like Mick Jagger’s entire solo output. Guitarist for country-rockers My Morning Jacket Carl Broemel’s debut solo record, All Birds Say, falls into the former category.
When performing with My Morning Jacket, Broemel can often be found flailing around the stage during up-tempo barn-burners, or adding texture to one of the band’s hazy ballads. For Broemel’s solo record, however, he trades in his electric guitar for an acoustic set of lilting country-folk numbers perfect for the segue into fall.
With a warm voice similar to My Morning Jacket lead-man Jim James, Broemel effortlessly works his way through breezy, relatively simple songs that, generally put, fall into the folk-rock genre.
The instrumental title track, “All Birds Say,” proves an apt starting point for the record. A sunny, classical, guitar melody eases up to a piano-bass-drums combo that gently fades into second track “Life Leftover,” a laid-back folk song about not taking for granted the short time we are given on earth.
Tucked into a dreamy country number called “Carried Away,” a subtly moaning lap steel guitar matches the weary chorus: “Don’t get carried away in the past, it’s not there/Don’t get carried away in the past, it’s not fair.” These lyrics are merely one example of the subtly poignant style of Broemel’s songwriting.
Elsewhere on All Birds Say, simple truths such as “Seems impossible to get ahead/When you are only making just enough,” from “Enough,” and the close detail of the gentle shuffling “On The Case,” with its descriptions of dusty, unfinished books and weeds “growing in beds by the water,” display Broemel’s lyrical prowess.
All Birds Say may disappoint some My Morning Jacket fans looking for another record of balls-to-the-wall, country-rock anthems and psychedelic balladry. Those willing to accept the fact that All Birds Say is a slower, more easy-going affair, however, will find a perfect fall record full of lilting, country-folk songs focused on the simple truths and nuances of everyday life.