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Ditchflowers - Bird's Eye

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 27 / 10 / 2011

Ditchflowers - Bird's Eye
Label: Sunshine Drenchy Records
Format: CD


Timeless pop on latest album from Tampa supergroup the Ditchflowers, which, after a shaky start and opening number, finds them not putting a foot wrong

If the Ditchflowers albums weren’t chock-full of timeless, well-crafted pop music they’d still surely shift a good few albums on just the way they package them. Not for the first time does a Ditchflowers CD make you want to hold and just look at a 12” version of the sleeve. It’s a work of art and the lyric sheet is almost as good. But it’s the music that counts and on this, the Ditchflowers' follow up to the critically acclaimed debut ‘Carried Away’, the band show that their initial release was no fluke. While those Costello and Squeeze influences are still present and correct, it’s obvious that David Bowie has inspired a couple of the songs and the closing ‘Lost Without You’ will have a certain Paul McCartney checking the composing credits to see if it’s one he had forgotten writing. It’s a heartfelt ballad of the kind McCartney is famed for and lyrically pretty smart. If the Ditchflowers have ended their latest album with one of the prettiest and touching songs they’ve yet recorded then they also started the album with the most uninspired song they’ve released to the general public. For a while there, right at the beginning of the fourteen-strong song album, it looked like they were simply treading water. ‘Sunshine Lifeline’ is a good, solid pop song full of attitude and swagger that most bands would be proud of. The problem is that the Ditchflowers set the standard so high with ‘Carried Away’ that we’ve now come to expect more from them than rock-by-numbers. When you consider that the band, led by Ed Woltil (Headlights) with Brian Merrill (from power poppers Barely Pink) also have guitar master Steve Connelly in their ranks then it’s no surprise that more is expected than a mere good, solid rocker like ‘Sunshine Lifeline’ which sounds a little jaded, especially as an introduction to their latest album. The song is saved by (presumably) Connelly’s searing guitar work and admittedly by the end of the song it finally starts to move you with some outstanding vocal work, but it wasn’t the best way to start this new collection. Thankfully it takes no time at all for the band to win you over as the second track ‘You Could Hurt Someone’ which starts as a catchy, edgy slab of pure pop which brings back memories of the late 70's, develops into a thing of beauty with the most passionate, soulful vocals displayed on the album before taking yet another unexpected twist before the fade-out. Again the lead guitar is breathtaking and those vocals are starting to get under your skin. ‘Simple Guy’ is one of those Ditchflowers songs where you can’t fail to be reminded of early Elvis Costello. It’s another little pearl of a song and, although keyboardist Lee Bryant, bass player Michael Hoag and the handful of different drummers (including Wilco’s Ken Coomer on one song) play their parts perfectly again, we are blown away by the contributions of Merrill, Woltil and Connelly. One second it’s the vocals that have you shaking your head in wonder, the next a guitar solo will leave you speechless. Ballads such as ‘Rainout’ are classic Ditchflower songs and are what we have come to expect from this talented band. Soulful vocals, both lead and backing, shine through and guitarist Connelly pulls all the stops out. It’s one of those songs that you just can’t stop playing and never tire of hearing. It’s a perfect pop song, played and sung brilliantly. From the power pop of ‘If You Can Dream It’ through the shadowy Bowie influenced ‘In Memory Of The Day’, taking in more Costello in the edgy pure pop of ‘I Feel Sorry’ to that closing ballad ‘Lost Without You’ which will please those McCartney fans, the Ditchflowers have produced an album that will appeal to a broad range of listeners. After a shaky start they never put a foot wrong; perfect pop songs like ‘Tuesday is Dead’ and ‘Home’ are lifted by amazing, unexpected guitar solos that still impress after many plays. At fourteen songs, ‘Bird’s Eye’ could have been at least four songs too many, as it turns out you’re left wanting more.

Track Listing:-
1 Sunshine Lifeline
2 You Could Hurt Someone
3 Simple Guy
4 Rainout
5 In Bird's Eye
6 If You Can Dream It
7 In Memory of the Day
8 Pictures of You
9 Love, The Conqueror
10 We Are the Time
11 I Feel Sorry
12 Tuesday Is Dead
13 Home
14 Lost Without You

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Carried Away (2008)
Exceptional melodic pop from Tampa-based outfit the Ditchflowers, which while having a classic sound also has a fresh edge

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