Stepping away momentarily from his day job as guitarist for My Morning Jacket, Carl Broemel strikes out on his own with an album perfectly attuned to sleepy summer nights and wasted days. There is a refreshing lack of lyrical complication on All Birds Say: no self-referential tongue twisters or hip shout-outs to flash in the pan trendsetters. Broemel’s hazy vocal delivery and fluttering acoustic guitars twist into folk rock ballads that are neither here nor there and sound not unlike some long lost 70’s rock star steeling away to whittle out a sleepy side of basement recordings in a secret Laurel Canyon studio.
After an opening salvo of chiming, worldly finger-picked acoustic guitars, Broemel kicks into the breezy “Life Leftover.” The lyrics expound upon the little lessons learned along the way as Broemel gently chides an unseen visitor that “drinking more doesn’t make you deep” or offers up tidbits of advise like, “I’m old enough to better know, the easy parts will never show.” The steel guitars and brushed snares of “In The Garden” lift the track’s lullaby melody into a calming pendulum of rhythm and reverb. Throughout the disc, Broemel’s secret weapon is his collaboration with his father, a one-time member of the Indianapolis Symphony. Broemel Sr. subtly adds a buzzy thicket of bassoon and clarinet and various other woodwinds to most tracks, developing a unique aural understructure that accents his son’s lazy-day melodies and near-whispered singing voice.
The album loses some of its buoyancy when Broemel shifts away from the lyrical subtlety and dense instrumentation of early tracks. “Different People” is a song-with-a-message that kindergarteners may find sophomoric and “Heaven Knows” abandons lovey-dovey come-ons for a whistle-as-we-flirt bridge that could kill by way of its extreme cuteness.
All Birds Say is strongest when Broemel lets his sublime guitarwork (or his father’s masterfully orchestrated winds) do the talking. “Sunday Drivers” is late-night, AM radio joy where Broemel’s wayward voice simply becomes another instrument to maximum effect. “Retired” is a back porch slow burner about the small joys of tea and classical music, where Broemel’s subject matter perfectly fits into his soft rock, American-tinged style.
Favorite Track: “Life Leftovert”
Reviewer Bio - Christopher j Ewing is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles with a girl and a designer dog. He is in a band by himself, has a myspace account at www.myspace.com/wastedpotentialproduction and a production company at (www.wastedpotentialproductions.com) for freelance film, video and journalism work.