CD Review of The Thorns by The Thorns

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The Thorns
starstarstarhalf starno star Label: Sony
Released: 2003
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Everyone's trying to be retro these days, at least as far as the music industry is concerned. If you read Rolling Stone and Spin and believe what they write, you just can't be cool unless your music evokes the terms "garage" or "glam." Well, here's a curve ball to throw their way. The Thorns, a super group if you will, featuring Matthew Sweet, Pete Droge and Shawn Mullins, brings back the lush harmonies and acoustic driven pop of a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and do it really well.

"Runaway Feeling" is a dead ringer for CSNY. Okay, maybe minus the Young part. But the Thorns seem to have captured the harmonies of that group while maintaining their own originality. When three singer/songwriters like this get together, you can't help but marvel at the level of musicianship. The first single, "I Can't Remember," has Sweet's footprints all over it, with a huge, hook-laden chorus. "Dragonfly" and "Now I Know" bring to mind another 1970s sugary pop group, Seals & Crofts. "Thorns" is more of a rock song, and a good one, ala Tom Petty or Elvis Costello. "No Blue Sky" and "Long, Sweet Summer Night" lean more to the rock side of pop, and as with most of this record, are well-crafted tunes. "Such a Shame" is something every guy can relate to at one time or another, wanting someone who belongs to someone else, and for my money it's the best track on here.

The only thing that you have to wonder here is why someone hasn't come up with this idea sooner. More than likely, it takes too much singing and songwriting talent that you can't always subtract egos from when you get them in the same room together. The Thorns not only pull it off, but come close to brilliance on a few of these tracks. There's just a piece of Americana here, and the whole album feels like you're driving on the freeway, with the sun setting, heading west.

~Mike Farley