The cover of Chicago folk-pop quartet Down the Line's third album, For All You Break, shows an x-ray of a broken limb, but that doesn't seem to be the kind of break primary songwriters Dan Myers and Dave Rothkopf had in mind; these are men with broken hearts. In song after song, written separately or, in the sole case of "Slip on Through" (in which romantic betrayal is compared to a drug deal gone wrong), together, Myers and Rothkopf describe the agonies of romance. The lyrics tend to be brief and repetitive, and they rely on simple metaphors. "She wears the sun," Myers sings in the song of that title, "All I do is sit and watch her shine." But the words seem less important than the playing and the arrangements, which are hook-filled and engaging. Occasionally, for instance in "Give in Again," listeners will recognize the influence of John Mayer. But mostly Down the Line manage an ensemble sound all their own, with Rothkopf and Levi Britton's acoustic guitars supported by Derek Fawcett's djembe and Myers' various instruments -- harmonica, violin, mandolin -- adding other acoustic colors. (For the album, guest drummer Blake Cooper helps drive the rhythms and ground the sound.) The vocal arrangements leave space for the lead singers while adding attractive harmonies. This is kinetic, inventive pop that will satisfy those who have caught Down the Line in their Midwest appearances and broaden their following.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann