Album Review

Bring Me Love EP

Bring Me Love EP

by The Broadsides

7 / 10
24th January 2012

Reviewed by Leslie Henkel

The Broadsides new EP, Bring Me Love, wields a kaleidoscopic, some (I) might call schizophrenic array of musical tastes and talents for a work so brief. Lead singer Alan Meharry plays mad ringleader to a four-ring circus of shifting genres—all of which are performed stunningly well—but which leave me wondering what to call this band. Are they Country Rock? New Orleans Swing? Alt-Folk Rock? Klezmer Spaghetti-Western? I’m not saying there shouldn’t be deviations, experiments, and surprises up a band’s sleeve, but I’d prefer these tricks on a full-length album, once a band’s schtick has been solidly established. Looking at each song individually, however, there’s a lot to appreciate in The Broadsides wide range of musical mastery.

“Bring Me Love” begins with a drawn out accordion and a deftly picked guitar, softly setting the stage for Meharry’s golden voice to duet with Tami Nelson’s Country strong one, before the electric guitar breaks the song out into an up-tempo Country jamboree. Banjo and drums join in for a Texas-two-step, over which Meharry and Nelson belt out their pleas for “grievance, sorrow, a drink in which I can wallow / Bring me Jesus, if he’s beautiful,” and of course, love. The pleas get increasingly heated and strange as a saloon piano chimes in with classic Country Western electric noodling, culminating in an emotional vocal battle between two lovers armed with formidable chops.

“What’s Your Name” is a fun, danceable Swing tune in the vain of Squirrel Nut Zippers or the Reverend Horton Heat. Upright bass, box guitar, trombone, saxophone and more duke it out as the boys endeavor to find out the name of one saucy maiden, with call-and-response shouts and a joyous energy. Next up is “Where’s My Love,” which I dare say is the most compelling and unique mash up of the Broadsides wide range of styles. Galloping drums start us off, as a cheerful Western dosey-doe guitar riff falls in and out, while Meharry’s voice takes on a more subdued quality, reminiscent of Samuel Beam from Iron and Wine. The chorus of voices, guitars, and insistent drums takes the song to a fevered pitch. This momentum leads nicely into the cinematic gypsy riot that is the final song, “What Have I Done.” Staccato accordion sets the beat, as a devil-played fiddle sizzles before hellfire-hot guitars, and Meharry wails against his fate—having “sold his soul to the devil for a bag full of coal.”

The Broadsides have clearly sold their souls to the devil in exchange for prolific musical talent. The back of the album boasts: “Musical Entertainment by artists of merit and ability rendering dance tunes, novelties, oddities, together with humorous repartee. Uncommon displays of musical prowess.” All this seems a fair approximation of the album, but unless a group aspires to be a pub house band, playing covers of The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies on Friday night, Jack White with Loretta Lynn on Saturday, and Gogol Bordello for Sunday brunch, a more lucid thematic center is recommended for the next release.

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