Friday 31 May 2013

Broken Anchor - Fresh Lemonade

Album review by

When artists who have spent time ploughing their own musical furrow decide to team up with other musicians it can, when things go right, work wonders. Austin Hartley-Leonard may well have produced some superb stuff as a solo artist (sadly, we haven't heard his music) but surely this debut album as Broken Anchor, formed with partner in crime Mike Duffy, must be the best he's been involved with so far. As first albums go, 'Fresh Lemonade' is very difficult to find fault with; it's likely that the only people left cold by this collection of songs will be those who have no interest in indie/alt-rock anyway. It's a highly competent and occasionally towering album, although us claiming it's impressive for a debut may be slightly misleading given that the main songwriter is already an established artist.

This is a traditional sounding record, but one with many highlights and some variety. Opener 'Always' is well-written and anthemic US alt-rock with a big chorus, however this shouldn't get mixed up with bands like The Hold Steady and other Boss-inspired acts, Broken Anchor's sound is less blue-collar and more soaring but tasteful indie. They keep the big choruses coming on 'Canada', and already you're seeing the potential here; these songs are begging to be heard and given plenty of radio and other media coverage. It's guilt-free anthemic rock, something which can be a rarity, and they're no novices when it comes to some quality harmonies either. 'Stencil Heart' does have a more American sound with it's mentions of being up in Laurel Canyon "drinking like we had fins" but calling it Americana is off the mark, even when the pace drops on 'Dear Diary' it's done with a different sonic template of beats and washes of vocals and different atmospherics.

That's just the first four songs and that quartet encapsulate the album. What follows doesn't differ much in style. So should that mean we can discredit the rest a bit? Hell no. Then you'd be missing out on slow-building 'Matador' or the similarly-styled 'Head Is A Hole'. And that's without mentioning the hit-shaped 'My Marie', the beautiful melodies of 'Broken Anchor Blues', potential best track 'Leave The Light On' and the scratchy and soaring end track 'Never Leave me Alone' which is the sound of a stride being hit. 'Fresh Lemonade' is a filler-free collection of well-crafted songs that deserve to be heard, and in terms of consistency you can have few complaints. These songs are made to be enjoyed and will probably sound best listened to outside, either with a cool beer, or maybe a refreshing glass of fresh lemonade.

Broken Anchor's website

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