Stand Still, Look Pretty [CD/DVD]

Stand Still, Look Pretty [CD/DVD]

5.0 6
by The Wreckers

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Working with her friend Jessica Harp, a country singer, Michelle Branch has revitalized herself and her music with the Wreckers' debut album. Delayed nearly a year while Branch and Harp submitted to a marketing tour with stars of the TV show One Tree Hill, their debut has too much weight for the teen-angst set. TheSee more details below


Working with her friend Jessica Harp, a country singer, Michelle Branch has revitalized herself and her music with the Wreckers' debut album. Delayed nearly a year while Branch and Harp submitted to a marketing tour with stars of the TV show One Tree Hill, their debut has too much weight for the teen-angst set. The country-tinged Stand Still, Look Pretty is brimming with passion, chock full of beautifully crafted songs, captivating vocals, and tight musicianship. Sheryl Crow is an obvious influence in sound and style, but Branch has an original voice as a writer, and it cries out loud and clear on these intense ruminations on love, heartbreak, and the search for some inner peace. The rich, surging, Dylan-like ambiance of "Tennessee," with a warm, rumbling organ underpinning the guitar-fired arrangement, is the ideal complement to a complicated tale of lost love and its accompanying melancholy. With banjo, fiddle, organ, and electric guitar lines snaking around each other, and the drums clattering on the bottom, "My Oh My" is a rowdy epiphany about enormous changes coming down in the blink of an eye. Stark and foreboding, with surging choruses and the steady moan of a pedal steel throughout, the title track features Branch in a breathy, Kasey Chambers kinda voice, clearly having a bad day being herself. "I am slowly falling apart," she cries in what becomes an unsettling exercise in self-flagellation. In your face all the way, Branch and Harp are a formidable tandem.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Sometime between the release of her second album Hotel Paper in 2003 and the birth of her first child in 2005, Michelle Branch decided that she was tired of following the adult alternative career path that she'd been pursuing since her 2001 debut Spirit Room. She made no bones about her frustration, memorably posting on her website in late 2005 that she was "tired of sucking ***** to get my music heard" in the course of an inspired rant in which she vented her frustration at the music biz and everything that surrounded it. It was a ballsy move, but it did accomplish its desired effect of loosening the log-jam that stalled her career, particularly her plans to release a duet album with her friend and collaborator Jessica Harp under the name the Wreckers. Branch received resistance from her label, not just because she wanted to trade in her solo career for life in a group, but because the Wreckers were a country duo, and the shift in sound was as risky as the decision to be part of a band. At least it must have seemed that way on paper, but in practice, the duo's debut Stand Still, Look Pretty doesn't seem like a radical departure from Branch's solo albums. Sure, there are fiddles, acoustic guitars, and twangy Telecasters instead of layers of synths, but the album is pitched halfway between Sheryl Crow and the Dixie Chicks, spiked with enough mainstream country-pop sheen to have it fit comfortably next to Miranda Lambert on the airwaves, but not enough to change the overall feeling that this record is a rootsy AAA record at its heart -- not far from Crow and the Dixie Chicks. It's a subtle change from Branch's previous work, but it does pay off significant dividends in a number of ways. First off all, Branch sounds at ease as part of a duo, and this truly is an equal partnership; in fact, Harp bears more songwriting credits than Branch does here, including two cuts that are hers alone ("Tennessee" and "Cigarettes"). Second, the clean-but-natural production is better suited to Branch's strengths than the stilted glossy sound of Hotel Paper, letting her songs stand on their own merits. And if she sounded a little tentative and fuzzy on her sophomore solo effort, she sounds focused here, thanks in large part to working with Harp, who helps draw out the earnest likeability that made Spirit Room appealing. It also helps that the Wreckers, in true country fashion, also cut a few professionally written tunes, such as the glittering opening cut "Leave the Pieces," that help keep this cohesive and entertaining. Not that there isn't a stumble or two along the way -- the anti-fame ruminations of the title track is too navel-gazing for country both in its topic and its moody dirge -- but the great majority of Stand Still, Look Pretty is tuneful, tastefully rootsy, and quite engaging country-pop. Based on this enjoyable album, if Branch decides to ditch her solo career to devote herself full-time to the Wreckers, it'd be a smart decision. [This version of the CD contains bonus DVD material.]

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Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Wreckers   Primary Artist
Sid Page   Fiddle
Larry Campbell   Fiddle
Charley Drayton   Drums
Stuart Duncan   Fiddle,Mandolin
Shannon Forrest   Drums
Audley Freed   Electric Guitar
John Leventhal   Banjo,Bass,Guitar,Mandolin,Percussion,Keyboards
Shawn Pelton   Drums
Biff Watson   national steel guitar
Paul Worley   Electric Guitar
RIck DePofi   Percussion,Horn,Keyboards
Michael Rojas   Hammond Organ
John Shanks   Banjo,Guitar,Mandolin,Keyboards
Randy Kohrs   Dobro
Craig Young   Bass
Richard Pagano   Drums
Abe Laboriel   Drums
Michelle Branch   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Harmony,Group Member
Jessica Harp   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Harmony,Group Member

Technical Credits

Patty Griffin   Composer
Wayne Kirkpatrick   Composer
Josh Leo   Composer
John Leventhal   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Gavin MacKillop   Producer
Stephen Marcussen   Mastering
Paul Worley   Producer
RIck DePofi   Producer,Engineer
Lars Fox   Engineer
Clarke Schleicher   Engineer
John Shanks   Producer
Michael Muller   Cover Photo
Scott Levitin   Mastering
Bill Austin   Composer
Michelle Branch   Composer,Producer
Jennifer Hanson   Composer
Jeff Rothschild   Engineer
Jessica Harp   Composer

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