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Published: 2008/04/24
by Matt Brockett

American Babies – American Babies

What we have here is eleven gorgeously crafted songs, steeped in Americana and built from honest emotion. No shit. Who knew?

Admittedly, American Babies’ mastermind Tom Hamilton’s previous band, Brothers Past, did absolutely nothing for me. Honestly and regrettably, I had pretty much written the man off, having hardly ever given him a chance. Few times in my life have I ever been so wrong about a musician. Thankfully, it’s the kind of wrong that comes with a reward, the discovery of some oddly catchy, rootsy music in the form of the American Babies. But we can all learn from my mistakes. Do not doubt the brilliant stylistic songwriting range of Mr. Tom Hamilton I tell you!

Both in music and lyrics, many of these songs beautifully capture the classic C&W juxtaposition of disappointment in the present and hope for a better future. “Baby, Don’t Cry” is one of those songs, and there’s absolutely no way you can convince me this song was recorded anywhere other than a raucous Wild West saloon. You can practically smell the whiskey and hear the glasses clinking. Then, without a single hint of pretension, there’s the instant indie pop classics like the dreamy, almost Oasis-like, “Swimming At Night.” The dark and dirty sound of “Rocker” breathes convincing life into lyrics like “Got my pills for the wide eyes, got my pills for the shut eyes,” and showcases the grittier side of these American Babies. The gorgeous and heartfelt “Broken English” and the tear-jerking closer “Never Be Loved Like This Again” introduce us to the quieter, more reflective side of Hamilton’s songwriting.

Overall the album has a pretty somber mood, with a few rockers and inspired moments thrown in to keep things plenty interesting. Musically they pull off forays into a number of different genres, skillfully playing multiple styles, all the while still managing to never lose the newly minted American Babies sound, truly no small feat. The breadth of Tom Hamilton’s songwriting so relatively early in his career is impressive and promisingwe’re definitely not dealing with some one trick pony here.

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