New To Us – Allred & Broderick

04 Allred & Broderick - tintype photography by Brandon Fernandez
Both photos by Brandon Fernandez

Allred & Broderick is the collaboration between American composers Peter Broderick and David Allred.

The duo’s debut album, Find The Ways, is an experiment in minimalism. The entire album was written and recorded by the duo using just voices, violin and an upright bass. The resulting record takes in influences from folk, classical music and harmony singing, creating something quite splendidly unique.

The duo’s collaboration began when they both found themselves in Oregon. The ninth largest and 26th most populous state, Oregon is located on the West Coast of the United States, and alongside Washington and British Columbia makes up the area of the Pacific North West. One of the most geographically versatile states, Oregon’s economy is largely powered by various forms of agriculture, fishing, and hydroelectric power. Hipster mecca Portland is by far Oregon’s largest city, and as such the state has a rich musical heritage including the likes of The Kingsmen, The Decemberists and She & Him.

Allred & Broderick first met back in 2012, when David wrote to Peter saying he had transcribed Broderick’s piano song ‘Pulling The Rain’ and wanted it checked for accuracy. A year later they found themselves both based in Oregon and started writing music together at Peter’s studio, The Sparkle. The result of those sessions is the pair’s debut album, Find The Ways, which came out earlier this month on Erased Tapes.

Find The Ways is an album that in many ways explores the beauty in simplicity. It is the pair’s attempts to peel back the complexity of living in the modern world and see what truth lies beneath the layers. It is a record that offers a respite from the noise and anxiety that can engulf anyone’s life, and a reminder of the fundamental elements that actually matter.

Perhaps the finest example of the beauty the pair find in simplicity is the de facto title track, The Ways. It is nothing more than two perfectly in tune vocals, sharing a message of friendship, hope, and fears for our planet. As they sing, “why don’t we help each other more? We clearly could do it, but it’s like we’re at war with ourselves”, it’s near impossible not to be moved by the simple emotional message, that feeling that the world could be a better place if we just, “find more ways to be kind”. It’s a real moment of chilling clarity, and one that makes you as a listener question just why we have to make life so painfully complicated.

Elsewhere there’s numerous intriguing moments; from the Bonnie “Prince” Billy like Living On A Wire, to the urgent The Wise Ones, which builds to discordant, alarming shrieks of violin, before building to a slightly odd wordless outro. I’m Not Crazy questions why we label people crazy simple for having ideas that don’t align with the norm, while closing track Robert, Please finds them debating giving up music all together. Throughout they repeatedly state, “I think this might be all for now”, and noting, “I love to create it’s only business that I hate”, even if they do humorously admit, “maybe I’ll crawl back tomorrow and beg Robert to put out seven new albums”.

The album’s other obvious stand out moment, is recent single Hey Stranger. The track is about an old friend of David’s, who disappeared five years ago, and whom David describes as, “one of the most perplexing individuals I’ve ever known”.  It details how now, even many years later, this person’s influence still lingers, as David sings, “the thought of running into you is a reoccurring fear”. It’s a somewhat bruising and honest recollection of an intriguing character, in many ways an attempt for David to put to rest an unresolved situation. Like the whole record, it’s a perplexing, intriguing and thoroughly rewarding listen.

Why Not?
Aside from the utterly charming Two Otters, the instrumentals here, Four Aspens and Hesitation, are perhaps more pleasant than vital – but that’s a minor criticism of a fascinating and challenging offering.

Find The Ways is out now via Erased Tapes. Click HERE for more information.

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