I first stumbled across Drew Danburry when -- no, scratch that. Drew Danburry stumbled across me. He sent me his second full-length, Besides…, a couple of years ago. It was full of earnest acoustic numbers, yet it had amateur written all over it. Even though I did not particularly enjoy that album, I never really wrote the guy off. I had an intangible feeling that, after a year or two more in the grind, he could really find his own sound and tighten up his routine. Danburry’s new EP, Mother., proves that I was correct to not write him off.
The most apparent thing about this EP is that Danburry gained a newfound pop sensibility. There are more instruments and bigger hooks which, with the disc’s slick production, help drill the melodies into your brain. The first track, “I’m Pretty Sure This Is Someone Else’s Song…,” opens with delightful ba-ba-ba’s that carry the tune. In the background, thick vocal layers creep in throughout the track, giving the song a really full feel. It feels as if you are in the crowd at a basement party where Danburry has just broken into song, and it works extremely well. The track slowly blends into an untitled stripped-down acoustic track that provides a stark contrast to the previous song.
The strongest track on the disc might be Danburry’s excellent cover of Clara W. McMaster’s “My Heavenly Father Loves Me.” The original was a Christian song intended for children to gain a greater appreciation of the world around them. Drew’s version doesn’t stray too far, and though undoubtedly a simple track, it is a beautiful one nonetheless.
For some reason, Danburry has taken the long song title schtick to a whole new level. Rather than just quoting a line from a hip indie flick, Danburry has titled tracks here with full on paragraphs, the longest of which rambles about the unrealistic behavior of actors in television dramas and must be well over 100 words. Bizarre? Yes. Somehow charming? Undoubtedly.
My biggest complaint with the disc would have to be its ending. Though the listed final track is a good one, it is extremely short and the EP seems to go out with a whimper. Then, as a hidden track, Danburry provides a demo version of the first track. It seems unnecessary, and adds nothing to the EP, but rather detracts from the experience of the disc. Why drag out a track that we had heard 15 minutes ago, even if it’s slightly altered?
Yet aside from this minor quibble, Danburry has provided what is a pleasantly surprising EP. Throughout Mother., Danburry takes risks by adding unique vocal arrangements or instruments to separate himself from the multitude of singer-songwriters out there. The songs on here, whether the poppy numbers or the folk ones, do not get stale, and are all satisfying tracks that should delight anyone looking for a nice break from the overwhelming number of traditional singer-songwriters out there.