Andrew Collberg

On the Wreath

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Nothing's more tiresome than a talented twenty-something who discovers folk-rock and thinks that just because it's new to him, it must be new to everyone else as well. The result is usually an earnest album of jangly, acoustic guitar-based pseudo-folk that sounds groovy to him and his hipster friends and sounds like second-hand Byrds to everyone else. Andrew Collberg's debut album may look like that on the surface, but in reality, it's something else entirely. Although On the Wreath pays a glancing homage to a whole host of somewhat like-minded predecessors (alert listeners will hear hints of the Go-Betweens, Elliott Smith, Bob Dylan, the Kinks, and even the Beatles here), there is never any sense that Collberg has done anything less than fully absorb and process those influences, turning them into something that is brilliantly, colorfully his own. "Clouds All of Your Rain" is aggressively but brilliantly old-school folk-rock; "Wait Inside" makes layered guitars sound like marimbas while Collberg lays out a tender, plainspoken vocal on top (pity about the harmonica, though); "Plastic Bows" is explicitly Beatlesque, which very few can pull off as convincingly as Collberg does; "Oh Why" is a slow-burning rocker, and "Make It Right" closes things out in a bittersweet, regretful vein, and features the most beautifully mournful trumpet solo since Chet Baker died. The banjo on "The Tide Below" is unnecessarily cute, as is the autoharp on "Plastic Bows," but both missteps are forgivable in a general context as nearly perfect as this album. This is a brilliant debut from a very promising young talent.

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