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Angus Stone, the male half of Angus and Julia Stone, recently released his sophomore solo album, Broken Brights. Stone’s music career first started picking up when he worked with his sister as Angus and Julia Stone. The Australian duo released two albums together, A Book Like This (2007) and Down the Way (2010). Both albums went multi-platinum in Australia, and Down the Way went platinum in France. The sibling act have since pleasantly gone their separate ways. Angus released his first album, Smoking Gun, in 2009 under the name Lady of the Sunshine.
His new album, Broken Brights, is a heavily folk album with moments of harder rock thrown in here and there. Stone sings through most of the album in a hushed and raspy voice. He produced the album himself, recording basically anywhere and anytime he could, including a broken down warehouse in Switzerland. Stone made the decision to first record it on tape.
The album kicks off with “River Love,” a song questioning love and reasons behind it. While the lyrics are slightly subdued, the instrumentation sounds more hopeful in its bright tones of guitar, mandolin, and violin, which slowly culminate into an energetic, instrumental break before Stone repeats the first verse once more to finish out the song.
The title track and first single from the album, “Broken Brights,” is a slow and thoughtful track with a great moment of heavily reverberated guitar to break up the song. A video was made for the title track, recoded on film, as the album was recorded on tape. The video features hazy shots of forest roads and fields of grass, while following a man and a woman either running or as silhouettes.
One of Stone’s best moments comes on the song “Bird and the Buffalo.” Stone’s voice in this song sounds strikingly similar to Jeff Tweedy’s of Wilco. The first couple times I heard this song, I actually thought it was a Wilco song. Don’t take anything away from Angus Stone for this though; if you sound like Wilco, you must be doing something right. This is also the hardest song on the album, with raging guitars taking over when Stone isn’t singing in a Crazy Horse type way.
“Wooden Chair” is another that has a strong edge over most other the other songs on the album. The song features deliberate drums and clapping which control the song. There’s also a whistling section in the song, which just as Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zero’s “Home” and Peter Bjorn & John’s “Young Folks” prove, is catchy as all hell. The video was also recoded on film.
Stone focuses a lot on storytelling throughout Broken Brights. Songs “The Wolf and the Butler,” “Monsters,” and “Apprentice of a Rocket Man” all feature some sort of story. “Apprentice of a Rocket Man” is an interesting song, sounding like futuristic, outer space, folk music with its spacious mixing and technological sound effects, and shaky, reverbed guitar.
All songs shape together to form a solid sophomore album from Angus Stone, someone who should have a much bigger prominence in America. Stone currently has shows set up only in Australia, but plans to tour much more extensively in support of the album.