The Sweet remains Laurel & Sunset (Self-released)
By Martin Cizmar
If writing a handwritten note counted for as much as it should on these things – and it doesn’t – I’d have written about The Sweet Remains a month or so ago when their album Laurel & Sunset arrived in my office. Alas, You Asked For It is ruthlessly first-come/first-served (which is why I did not review your friend’s band’s album in time for his CD release party, sorry, man), so The Sweet Remains gets written up now.
Still, that note said a lot about this group, made up of Phoenix’s Brian Chartrand and two dudes from out of state (Rich Price and Greg Naughton). Their music, like the note, is exceptionally thoughtful.
Playing a brand of acoustic cappuccino rock that appeals to guys who’ll wear a fedora with jeans, they’re sure to draw comparisons to a laundry list of sensitive male singers I won’t bother to catalog. Chartrand is also guilty of admitting he wrote a song about birds singing outside his window for Out Of The Ether, his solo project, and playing a song with lyrics that comment on a girl’s new haircut then say, “It’s not my taste/but you’re beautiful anyway.” Oof.
Yet there’s certainly something endearing about these guys, who seem to thrive on comparisons to Crosby Stills, & Nash, though, without the high, intertwined harmonies I’d much sooner compare them Jason Mraz. “Love Song” (where the aforementioned haircut line comes from) is undeniably catchy, with cooing guitars and an inviting refrain. “What I’m Looking For,” has a nice little melody and some cymbals (!) that set it apart from the album’s other tracks. “Leading Me Home,” where the group begins with an ambitious three-part harmony before segueing in to a bluesy little riff, on the other hand, tries a little too hard, as does “Pretemps A Paris,” sung part in French, with references to floating down the Seine, drinking wine.
As an acoustic folk trio with hardly any experimentation, The Sweet Remains are sure to offend the sensibilities of people who don’t put pictures of their cats on their Christmas cards, but they’ve got a nice sound, and Laurel & Sunset is an impressive effort, full of thoughtful, well-crafted songs that are certainly better than the schlock you’ll hear at the average coffee house.