It's easy to tag the Autumn Defense as a band striving to re-create the sun-splashed sound of the classic California folk-rock and chamber pop albums of the '60s and early '70s, but while their musical influences are clear, the truth is that Patrick Sansone and John Stirratt have delivered an album every bit as satisfying and beautiful as the artists they've followed with their self-titled third release. The Autumn Defense is a rich and mature collection of songs that sparkle with melodic beauty without ignoring the more difficult emotions that are often part and parcel of commitment; thankfully devoid of self-pity or a deluded joy, these songs speak of passion and experience in equal portions, and the superb arrangements and crisp, nearly flawless playing bring forward the impassioned material with inspired accuracy. As songwriters, Sansone and Stirratt deliver their strongest work to date on The Autumn Defense, and Sansone's production is lush without sounding excessive, as a superb ensemble of musicians (among them Nels Cline, Brad Jones, and Jim Hoke) weave superb textures around the melodies. The result is an album that wouldn't have sounded out of place coming from Elektra Records in 1970, but The Autumn Defense isn't an act of nostalgia for an era these musicians are too young to have been part of; instead, Sansone, Stirratt, and their collaborators have embraced the sound of a previous era and used it as a creative stepping stone into the present, and the finished product is truly timeless music with superb craft and plenty of heart. Simply put, The Autumn Defense is a triumph and one of the most impressive albums of the year.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming