Twin Forks

Twin Forks

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By virtue of being an introspective singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar, Chris Carrabba has always been an artist skirting the edge of what is generally referred to as "folk music." When he made his debut in 2001 under the name Dashboard Confessional, he essentially rebranded emo as something that could also be played without a band or an amp. Over the years, he experimented with various electric versions and expanded lineups, but always seemed most effective in his stripped-down, impassioned, acoustic glory. Flash forward a decade to a time when an unlikely "folk revival" is underway, making stars out of earnest-voiced, boot-stomping, banjo-wielding young men, and it's not that hard to imagine Carrabba's music repackaged for the Mumford crowd. Formed in early 2013, Twin Forks is the folky Americana soul-sister to Dashboard's plaintive emo strumming. While some might accuse the veteran Carrabba of hitching a ride on new folk's fading boxcar, Twin Forks' rootsy sound actually suits him pretty well. His high, dusty voice blends well with mandolinist/singer Suzie Zeldin on songs like "Can't Be Broken" and "Kiss Me Darling," and the all-acoustic band sounds much more cohesive than many of his later, more rock-oriented Dashboard lineups. On the other hand, many of the songs on their self-titled debut overplay the cheery folk angle so hard that they just come off as hokey handclap exercises, like on "Scraping Up the Pieces" and "Cross My Mind." In theory, Twin Forks seems like a worthy vehicle for Carrabba's songs, but too much of this album panders to worn-out themes and clich├ęs. When an honest piece of songwriting like "Done Is Done" finally appears on the album's mellower second half, it makes you wish he'd use this nice Dust Bowl group to sing of more ageless, human themes and lose the theme-band schtick.

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