Music is most easily digested and appreciated when it fits the mood. While some use music to get them psyched up or to calm them down, I think music is best when it fits the mood that already exists. Not all music fits every situation, but when you find that perfect song and sound for a certain moment, day, week, it’s almost supernatural. Pittsburgh, PA’s own Broken Fences fell into my lap at exactly the right moment and it was a very fortunate coincidence.
It’s really hard to try and describe a band like Broken Fences, that feels at once both familiar and different. This is partly because they do so many different things on the album, from songs that sound like Dido (thanks to Morgan Erina’s beautiful vocals) to songs that sound like Jack Johnson to songs that like hymns. It’s minimalist, usually featuring a guitar and a piano and incredible harmonies, but it’s also full, of sound and meaning and emotion. It’s a rock solid debut with a few stand out tracks.
There’s not a bad song on this album; there really aren’t even any songs that are skippable. It’s that good. There are, however, a few songs that really shine through as exceptional in songwriting and musicality. First things first, if you love listening to men and women harmonize, you’ll absolutely love this album. It’s like The Civil Wars or The Weepies except there are very few parts on the album where both people aren’t singing. It’s fantastic to hear these two wrap their voices around the guitar picking and gentle piano melodies.
The first really outstanding track is “Reach”, a song that really hits on the struggles of ending a relationship and acknowledges all the emotions that go with it. The sparsity of music behind the honesty in the lyrics really makes this song hit home. With lines like “You might not remember me but I can promise you,/ I will not forget what we have been through”, this song is hard not to feel.
“Digital 60s”, the next stand out track, is a melancholy love song, one that sings of a love that’s impossible to ignore. With simple chords and some easy second guitar riffs, this song seems more genuine and honest because of the simplicity. When Morgan sings “Are you stepping on my shoes/ or are you just dancing?”, there’s a playfulness that’s betrays the tone of the song. The last verse, “Emotions get lost,/ through all the wires./ But if music doesn’t speak,/ call me a liar”, is one of my favorite bits of lyricism in a long time.
The last track to really outshine the rest is “Lifeline”. While most songs have a quotable line or theme, this song builds from the beginning and the story and relationship evolve and give you a real picture of the people involved. It’s a song about connecting to another person and sharing more than just words or actions. It’s something I think we all search for and this song does an amazing job of putting those feelings to music.
Broken Fences has created an excellent debut album, one that’s full of great songs with a few that are truly exceptional. Take the time to relax and put yourself in the mood for this music and I promise you that it will have some meaning for you. You owe it to yourself.