Imagine the early Palace Brothers playing with My Morning Jacket's chops and you start to get an idea of what to expect from Canadian three-piece Elliott Brood. Playing what they like to describe as "death country," Elliott Brood are, like Palace, obsessed with the dark corners of this life -- alcohol, violence, busted love affairs, family strife, the sadder burdens of history -- but what sometimes seemed like a dramatic affectation coming from Will Oldham sounds like a harsh but honest vision of the world as seen by lyricist and lead singer Mark Sasso. Sasso and his compatriots Casey Laforet and Steve Pitkin are able to conjure up a sound that references the past without being bound to it, as the washes of electronic and found noises mingle with their acoustic guitars and banjos in a manner that's at once spare and full-bodied. And for all the brooding and sadness in Elliott Brood's music, Ambassador is an album that offers a glimmer of hope over the horizon, or at least the promise of redemption; this band isn't marketing gloom for its own sake, but offering its own take on a world where the light must struggle very hard to shine. Elliott Brood's first full-length album is an impressive achievement, and certainly one of the most striking debuts of 2005.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming