Let My Burden Be (2002)
Oct 22, 2002[one_half]
With performances by Adam Kline, Jason Graham, Rich Good, Todd Roper, Joanna Newsom, Dave Brockman, Greg Brown, Josh Klinghoffer (bass), Rusty Miller, Neal Morgan, and Brett Shady.
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Review posted on www.adequacy.net
“To put it simply, Let My Burden Be is filled with the sort of indie-pop tunes that feel absolutely timeless. It is complicated and genius, but in a simple and easily accessible sort of way, and it is filled to the brim with the sort of songs that will burrow their way into your brain whether you like it or not. Frontman Adam Kline is joined by Jason Graham of his former band, the Gears, as well as Rich Good and drummer Todd Roper, of Cake and Deathray fame. Greg Brown, also of Cake, and Rusty Miller of Jackpot lead a host of guest musicians that drop by to contribute everything from vocals to piano to handclaps. The end result is nostalgic yet remarkably fresh, and while some people compared the Gears’ sound to that of early Beatles, this Golden Shoulders album could be compared to later Beatles.
The opening “Do You Know Who You Are?” is nothing short of irresistible, and it really doesn’t get much worse from there, all the way down to the folky politics of “The Honey, the Power, the Light.” Lyrics range from witty and thought-provoking to simple choruses of “lah lah lah,” and the same goes for the music in general. You get a little taste of everything, with one song transporting you to a summer country fair, while another will have you cradled in a rocking chair on the back porch. One minute you’ll be bouncing around like a kid with too much sugar in his system, and the next you will be slowly dancing with a loved one. From rock, to pop, to folk, there is a little bit of everything, and it all works together beautifully, with modern production styling meshing with traditional rock songwriting to create something truly wonderful.
If Phil Ochs were writing pop songs today, and collaborated with George Harrison or John Lennon, it might sound something like this. Yet this is not simply a rehashing of the classic pop songbook but rather a new and sophisticated page entirely. If you are any fan of thoughtful, diverse, and entertaining pop-rock, this one is certainly worth checking out.”