Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
The first time we heard Carl Broemel's latest album, "All Birds Say," was in a car with David Vandervelde, headed back to Iowa from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and April Base Studio, where we'd just spent the day taping Gayngs on an unbelievably gorgeous fall afternoon. There were all kinds of smoke breaks and drink breaks, ducking out to the deck of the split level house in the country, or to the front lawn with friends and Glasser, with the box elder bugs getting thicker and thicker as the day went on. It turned a small afternoon project into an all-day affair. We left well after sunset, well after dinnertime, for the six-hour drive home and weariness was starting to elbow out the excited energy from a magical musical experience in a former indoor pool. We needed snacks and we needed to get home, in that order. We were riding in Vandervelde's personal car - something like a jeep - and stuffed into a compartment on the passenger's side of the vehicle was a burned copy of "All Birds Say," given to him by Broemel, a fellow Nashvillian. It was the only record we listened to for that entire time spent on the ride home, other than the couple hours worth of Fleetwood Mac that we blasted both before and after the speeding ticket we picked up for going 20 over sometime around one in the morning, when there wasn't another car on the road. If we had it to do it over again, we would have put "All Birds Say" back in the player after that speeding ticket. It's a coming down record. It's a record that feels as if it were made over the course of decades, the wisdom in the easy words taking time to age and to hit the points just right. It takes time to make sure that words like those on "Carried Away" or "Questions" have the kind of thoughtful and believable effect as they do when Broemel, a member of Kentucky's My Morning Jacket, sings them. This is when you just want to be home and you might even want to be alone, in the solitude of your own problems and thoughts. It's when you think that something like that - a quiet old house, with no one else around, with nothing to do - is exactly how it should be. It's what you need right now. Broemel puts you at ease with every second of these songs. It's a record filled with Sunday afternoons that go on for half a week. There's no hurry about them and yet they seem to tell whole stories and give full personalities within their banks. The tired, but fulfilled folks on the album closer, "Retired," are the versions of everyone else on the record, just a little further down the road. They are the people who spent $80 on four bottles of wine earlier in the album, now making themselves pots of tea and listening to classical music as they enjoy being alone. Broemel sings, "You're dancing a waltz on your own," and it sounds like a snapshot of a dream sequence for someone who's either been worked to death for decades or pushed around a little bit too hard. He comes at a song like an archivist, detailing the sights, sounds and smells of a day and of the people walking through them. Everything falls into its place and there's a succinctness even when he stretches songs out to the six and seven-minute ranges, giving them the beauty of elapsed time, giving them the brilliance of a full heart, a full stomach and an illuminated soul.