Aware / Columbia
Words fail me.
Evidently, this is a problem I share with Matthew Sweet, Shawn Mullins and Pete Droge, AKA The Thorns. For on the supergroup’s debut release, they have created twelve songs that say nothing at all. The thirteenth, a cover of the Jayhawks’ “Blue,” is a great song, and one the guys should have studied a bit more closely. Instead, we get an overly sweet homage to Southern California folk flab. These guys aim, seemingly, at recreating the classic Crosby, Stills and Nash sound. Notice I left out the “Young” of that grouping. So did The Thorns. This is toothless, banal music that is so sweet it’s like eating an extra helping of cotton candy. Musically, it veers far too close to America or Bread.
You would think for all the firepower assembled here, that the end result would be at worst only great. Jim Keltner, drummer numero uno, Greg Leisz on everything stringed, Springsteen’s Roy Bittan on keys, strings arranged by the legendary Paul Buckmaster, produced by Brendan O’Brien for heaven/s sake. But no, this record is too similar-sounding, too predictable to believe. Instead of combining the best aspects of the trio – Sweet’s pop sense, Mullins folk charm and the grit of Pete Droge – they instead join forces, all sing at the same time (in seemingly the same voice and range) and the end result is a pleasant-sounding waste of time.
Really, if you think this review sounds harsh, listen to the record. You’ll curse me for understatement. Guys, don’t give up your day gig.
The Thorns: http://www.thethorns.com/