Broken Poets
"Acoustic\Electric"

(Self-Released 2002)Broken Poets - Acoustic\\Electric

Broken Poets' newest release, "Acoustic\Electric" is a collection of 8 songs by singer/songwriter Tim McDonald and a rotating cast of other musicians. Leaving nothing ambiguous, the title "Acoustic\Electric" sums it up, as the album alternates between songs featuring only acoustic guitar and vocals and songs featuring electric guitars, basses and drums. By combining two different sounds onto one album, Broken Poets seem to have attempted to please everyone while putting forth their material.

Aptly opening "Acoustic\Electric" with an acoustic song, "Movie In My Mind" is simply McDonald and guitar. While the song is one of the strongest acoustic ones on the album, the question arises as to whether it's strong enough for the number one slot, meant to draw listeners in. "Factory Head," the first electric song, is instrumentally strong while McDonald's vocals can unquestionably stand on their own. The instruments, with their driving rhythm and interesting texture, are blended together into one piece. This blending pushes the focus away from just the instruments or just the vocals and makes you focus on the song as a whole. Returning to the acoustic one man with an acoustic guitar style, McDonald plays "Meaningless Heart," singing "I'll be alone the rest of my life / And find the bottom of this meaningless heart." "Prestidigitation" is an electric song, slower and a bit heavier than "Factory Head," with modern rock sensibilities. But while the title is a mouthful you might have to look up in a dictionary, the lyrics have a smart without being obnoxious edge to them. A nice acoustic, "One Sunday," with its melody driven chorus, which is likely to stick in your head, is simpler and not as involved earlier acoustic tracks. "Swear the Devil's 1st Name" mixes rock with a distinct mid-western flare. The song is more guitar-driven than previous electric tunes and the vocal line really stands out during the chorus. With an introduction that peaks your interest and a strong underlying instrumental part, "Descending Line" is a stripped down rock sound that gets a fuller sound, despite the previous driving guitar, with a heavy bass part on the chorus and a Hammond organ throughout. "I wanna run 'til my heart runs outs / Show the world what love's about / I wanna run 'til the day I die / Never know why," McDonald sings on "Descending Line." The album's final track, "Welcome to My Life" begins with a weird spoken part and becomes a simple electric ballad that probably isn't the strongest closer.

The acoustic songs, while not being overly complicated, are simple, pretty melodies with heart. The electric part of the album, meanwhile, has definite possibilities and would appeal to a larger and wider audience than the acoustic section. No matter what the style, the lyrics tend to be a strength of the album and fit McDonald's voice. Despite this apparent line drawn in the sand, "Acoustic\Electric" takes a risk by combining two seemingly different styles and sounds and while getting some scrapes and bruises, the album comes out on the other side.

B