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Ditchflowers - Carried Away

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 4 / 5 / 2008



Ditchflowers - Carried Away
Label: Sunshine Drenchy Records
Format: CD

intro

Exceptional melodic pop from Tampa-based outfit the Ditchflowers, which while having a classic sound also has a fresh edge


This is the second release on Florida’s Sunshine Drenchy Records that has come our way over the last few months. Steve Robinson’s ‘Undercurrent’ was the first and was a fine collection of 60's influenced folk-pop that has become a firm favourite around these parts, never too far from a CD player. Apart from the same record label there are a few other connections between Robinson and The Ditchflowers. This Tampa based band is headed by Ed Woltil and Brian Merrill. Woltil was a member of the Headlights along with Robinson and that acclaimed band had the distinction of backing Roger McGuinn which must have been something of a career highlight for the band. Woltil lends more than a helping hand instrumentally on Robinson’s ‘Undercurrent’ and the favour is returned here by Robinson albeit in a smaller role. Both musicians cover much the same musical territory, but The Ditchflowers take in, or show, a broader range of influences than Robinson does on ‘Undercurrent’. There is less of a 60's influence on ‘Carried Away’. Another thing that the two releases we have listened to so far on Sunshine Drenchy Records have in common is that they are chock full of melodic pop, taking in a hefty measure of folk/rock along the way. ‘New Skin’ features half way through the album but I’ll start with that as that is the song with the Robinson connection. Steve contributes and had a hand in writing and arranging some of the vocals on this song and maybe it’s no coincidence that the song that the former Headlights collaborate on could have been a highlight on McGuinn’s ‘Back From Rio’ album. It’s neither a Byrds nor McGuinn rip-off but has that feel to it; melodic, perfectly produced and played and one of those songs that once heard is never forgotten. ‘My Next Life’ opens the album and is perfect example of what to expect from the following eleven songs ; guitars that chime and jangle, tight harmonies and well-crafted melodies that twist and turn so always offer something new with each listen. Woltil and Merrill split the lead vocals evenly and although it’s easy to distinguish who is singing lead as their vocals are not that similar there’s little to suggest that one is a better singer than the other, obviously as the songs work so well with the lead singer that is assigned to a particular track I’d be very surprised to learn that the songs haven’t been road-tested some miles to hear who is best suited to any given tune. If anything negative could be directed at this album it would be thattThe Ditchflowers are not breaking any new ground here but then who is these days ? What they do they do extremely well, their influences are not overtly obvious, they mine that seam of melodic pop / folk / rock that many before them and many after will do, add subtle layers of classic pop which stretches from the Beatles through Squeeze to the Feeling and inject it all with enough originality to make these songs never less than interesting listening. If a song or verse does tend to be nothing more special than a good solid pop song that we could have heard many times before as in the closing ‘Spend My Life’, it’s not long before a chorus comes along that lifts the song to that special place and, in this particular song, even adds a short instrumental break before the next verse that is so beautiful you don’t want it to end. One of the biggest appeals in these songs is the way the Ditchflowers take the music off in different directions all within the confines of one song while never losing any continuity. If you need a taster of just how good the Ditchflowers can be try the aforementioned ‘New Skin’ or ‘Hearts Caved In’, the prettiest of melodies with sweet vocals from Merrill which can’t fail to move the hardest of hearts. Or even the slightly tougher ‘Since I Met You’ with its power-pop leanings and superb harmonies. An outstanding collection of twelve songs, firmly steeped in the classic pop of the past while still sounding fresh and played and produced so well you wonder why the songs are not a staple of every radio station especially during the summer. ‘Carried Away’ is the main contender for the soundtrack to our long awaited summer just now. A shame there is no vinyl version of this album that I know of; if ever a CD cover deserved to be shown in all its 12” x 12” glory it’s this one. This is an album that will never sound dated and will be played time and again in the months to come throwing up new favourites every time.



Track Listing:-
1 My Next Life
2 Home Away From Home
3 All the Time in the World
4 Hearts Caved In
5 Walkin' Back
6 New Skin
7 Since I Met You
8 Boys
9 Sweet Mercy & Understanding
10 Aunt Marie
11 Kind Kind Kind
12 Spend My Life


Band Links:-
https://www.facebook.com/Ditchflowers
http://www.theditchflowers.com/


Label Links:-
http://sunshinedrenchy.tumblr.com/
https://www.youtube.com/user/sunshinedrenchy
http://www.last.fm/label/Sunshine+Drenchy+Records



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