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Broomtree

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Album Review

The Downy Mildew that made the Broomtree album sounds subtly different from the band that later became well known. Jenny Homer's vocals are further back in the mix than on later albums, and her harmonies with Charlie Baldonado are a bit more tentative. What carries the album is the overall texture, which is strangely compelling. The songs are vague and mysterious, even when sung forcefully over a brightly strummed guitar. The subjects are impenetrable, even when the emotions are clear, and you find yourself singing along while having no idea what you're singing. The hook-laden folk-pop is bracing, especially tracks like the vigorous "Sally, Pt. 3." (It's typical of this group that "Sally, Pt. 2" comes somewhat later in the album, and that there is no part one.) The rare instance where the band sings a pure, straightforward pop song, such as the delightful "Burning Bridges," shows that, even this early in their career, Downy Mildew could have forged a pop chart burner if they had cared to. The band obviously had something more interesting in mind, something more intelligent and subtle, and Broomtree is better for their ambition. Note: The CD release also contains the entire self-titled first EP, originally released on Texas Hotel Records.

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