Photos by Roy Kranz
Review by Kara Gheldof
There's a certain balance to be found between the opening and closing tracks of Brett Mitchell's latest album, Falling Apart at the Seams, an assortment of songs that are alternately lonely and hopeful but consistently entertaining.
"I've let go of everything / except this string / that's all that's left of me," Mitchell croons in the titular track, which kicks off the album and wastes no time, save for one three-note false start. It's a fitting start to the album that consists mostly of songs that seem to be longing for a lost relationship or perhaps something deeper that Mitchell just can't seem to get a grasp on, despite earnest attempts to understand it.
This theme of being lost and weary is repeated all throughout the album, culminating in the final powerful track, wherein Mitchell sings, "This time around / I won't fall down / a thousand times I've said these lines / but somehow always seemed contrived / I’m picking up the pieces that were left on the ground / and I’ll be better." The words are melancholy yet somehow energized and optimistic, maybe more so than any other song on the album, so it's a perfect choice for the final track if Mitchell's intent was to leave his listeners with resonant feelings of motivation.
It's not hard to wonder where Mitchell's appeal comes from; his sound is an amalgamation of plenty of his favorite artists spanning a plethora of genres, with a particular focus on folk and alternative rock, with a dash of country thrown in. But despite the little hints of familiarity in his tunes, it's hard to pinpoint Mitchell's style to any one influence. He can go from the sweet, pop-rock sound of "Stay Home Tonight" to the more contemplative jazz-infused "Shake It Out" to harder, guitar-heavy tunes like "Dead-End Lover" with ease. There's no doubt Mitchell would put on a great live show, blending his softer songs with the more energetic ones.
One of the best tracks on Falling Apart is the penultimate "The Other Side," an introspective, harmonica- and brass-infused ballad. "How many walls do we have to climb / til' we find there’s nothing on the other side / endless success will test the rest/but I’m not defined by what I possess," Mitchell sings, reminding us more of a sultry blues singer than any persona he'd represented so far. The change is not terribly jarring though, as the song is a culmination of all the supposing Mitchell had done prior to that point, and sums up his struggle fairly well. It is possibly the only track where Mitchell dispenses wisdom with complete confidence, but it works just as well as the songs where he is lost and searching.
Hopefully, Mitchell and his band needn't search for much longer; they have a clean and professional sound that is wholly appealing. They are surely destined for greater things and wider exposure down the road. Perhaps this sophomore album will be viewed as the in-between step and the catalyst for whatever is awaiting Mitchell next.
Official Website: www.brettmitchellmusic.com
© Kara Gheldof, 2010