Review by Matt Mac Haffie
Little Hopes is the latest full-length CD release from Albany expatriate John Brodeur, marking his first album of new material in four years. The album is a fine mix of small studio magic and guitar-fueled power-pop with Brodeur’s always brilliant songwriting providing the glue for this collection of gems.
Opening with an understated clap-and-kick backing track and floating-on-top vocals, “Be Careful” brings to mind Liam Finn. “One Man Army” and “Favorite Feeling” show off Brodeur’s strong and adept power-pop leanings, while “Neil Young” and “Second Time” have more Americana leanings.
“Dig” – the song that contains the title Little Hopes in its lyrics – uses waltz-time in a modern context as effectively as Matthew Sweet, all built musically on the now-you-hear-them, now-you-don’t ump-pa-pas, strings and bells, leaving one to wonder if it is real or vividly imagined.
Harmonica opens the last track, “Spit It Out,” a more melancholy take on the song than the Brodeur-led trio, Maggie Mayday, re-purposed to great effect. Stanza after stanza of world-class lyrics – “Happy birthday on the phone, 3 AM, You took 30 pills, Suck the life out of the night, And spit it out” paired with “Happy endings all around, Keep your feet planted, And when the world stops turning, You’ll be the first one running, And we will all be tuning in, Until you change channels again” – will keep me tuning in again and again, and maybe you should, too.
Little Hopes has some lovely cover art by Nippertown’s own Phil Pascuzzon, as well as musical production help from Troy Pohl and Dominick Campana, and additional mixing and mastering by Grammy Award-winning engineer Michael Tudor.