19 Easy Pieces is pretty much exactly that. The 19 tracks on the album -- culled from abandoned B-sides, compilations, film and theater soundtracks, and live recordings -- could be described as "easy" in light of their accessibility and digestibility. These are light and mellow chamber pop tunes, textured and inventive but always firmly rooted in melody. David Bridie and his collaborators (which include violinist Hope Csutoros, cellist Helen Mountfort, former Not Drowning, Waving bandmate John Phillips, and even pop star Michelle Shocked) certainly do not follow anybody's formula, but even their instrumental film score pieces demonstrate an unfailing ear for strong hooks. This collection is particularly notable for those film excerpts, which often bear a resemblance to the work of Mychael Danna. "Dead Errol" and "That Eye the Sky," a pair of Bridie/Phillips collaborations written for a John Ruane film, are particularly Danna-like. Long, sustained notes are a hallmark of the sound, both in the incidental pieces and the pop songs. They are also a key to this CD's consistently bewitching mood, as are simple and oft-repeated chord and note progressions. The latter nine of the 19 Easy Pieces begin to vary the previously well-established tone, including a fast-paced guitar jam ("The Samick"), as well as a whimsical folky romp ("The Pramsitters") taken from a live concert recording. But the change of pace is welcome and the album retains a surprising unity throughout, despite its patchwork origins.
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AllMusic Review by Evan Cater