The Thorns
Artist: Thorns
Format: CD
New: Not in stock

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DSM doesn't have quite the same ring as CSN, but that should give you a senseof where singer-songwriters Pete Droge, Matthew Sweet and Shawn Mullins areheaded in their affiliation as the Thorns. The impromptu trio of solo artists—whichDroge and Mullins began in a failed effort with Glen Phillips—have filled theirself-titled debut with carefully constructed songs whose gentle melodies andinobstrusive instrumental structures leave plenty of room for the pillowy vocalharmonies that are its calling card. The good news is that a) they can singand b) they sound pretty good together. But how you feel about the Thorns dependson how much invention you're looking for—and there's not much here. Droge, Sweetand Mullins have crafted a comfortable homage to late '60s and '70s folk-pop,channeling not only CSN but also the likes of the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, theHollies, the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield. These are lofty targets, and it'sto the Thorns' credit that they can slide so effortlessly into that mold.

The opening track, "Runaway Feeling," rides a gentle mid-tempo gaitwhose ringing acoustic guitars gradually yield sonic ground to electrics. "ThinkIt Over" and "Now I Know" sound like refugees from CSN's vaults,while "Thorns" is a rare respite of energy amidst its lush surroundings.The Thorns' frame of reference isn't entirely in the distant past, however;the harmonic structure of the first single, "I Can't Remember," recallsthe Jayhawks—which is just as well since it's followed by a fairly faithfulcover of that group's lone hit, "Blue," accompanied by subtle orchestrationsfrom the Paul Buckmaster school. True vocal harmony groups are rare, so theThorns shouldn't be discounted, but considering the individual talents involved,we're justified to have expected something a bit more earth-shaking.