Recorded after putting his indie rock group the Veils on hiatus, One Piece at a Time is the solo debut of bandleader Finn Andrews. Consisting largely of songs written alongside Veils material over a span of five years but put aside because they ultimately weren't right for the group, the set is still very much in keeping with the band's lyrical, emotive style. In addition to a tendency toward more personal, deliberately paced selections, differences from the Veils include arrangements that are centered on piano and fleshed out with strings, woodwinds, and brass in addition to guitar and a light-handed rhythm section. The album was co-produced by Andrews and Tom Healy (Tiny Ruins, Jen Cloher), who also plays guitar on the recording. Opening track "Love, What Can I Do" is a low-key showstopper. The cabaret-style ballad features only piano accompaniment for its first minute or so and sets a dramatic, yearning tone for the album. (Andrews' voice and piano were reportedly recorded live in the studio in a single take.) Later, the wistful "Al Pacino/Rise and Fall" affects with swelling strings over arpeggiated piano. Some of the livelier tracks include "One by the Venom," though its foot-stomping, hand-clapping, Spanish-informed rhythm is accompanied by a list of causes of death. With lyrics like "I never thought I'd fall so fast/You wanted only distraction," the musically brighter "A Shot Through the Heart (Then Down in Flames)" is still heartbroken. One Piece at a Time closes on a wistful note with the floaty, '80s-evoking keyboard ballad "Don't Close Your Eyes." While more than a little sentimental, the album's timeless melodies and elegant arrangements make it worthwhile for those outside of the misty-eyed crowd. Trivia of note: The cover photo depicts Andrews as a child.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson