Personnel: Stewart Bronaugh (vocals); Joshua Jaeger (drums); Nina Greene (background vocals).
Liner Note Author: Robin Eaton.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then sounding a lot like a musician you admire isn't always a bad thing. Such is the case with Nashville's Lionlimb, who have clearly taken the late Elliott Smith's music to heart. Showcasing the talents of singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Stewart Bronaugh and drummer Joshua Jaeger, Lionlimb's full-length debut, 2016's Shoo, is a vintage '60s-and '70s-sounding collection of psych and garage rock-infused pop. Also adding to the retro-vibe on Shoo is backing vocalist Angel Olsen, who also works with Bronaugh and Jaeger in her own band. Produced by Robin Eaton, who has previously helmed albums by Jill Sobule, Tim Easton, the Spinto Band, and others, Shoo does evince many of the hallmarks of Smith's work including hushed, poetic vocals, crunchy electric guitars, echoey tube amps, and songs that straddle the line between layered Baroque pop, disco, and folk. In that sense, Lionlimb's sound also falls somewhere in between the rootsy twang of Austin's White Denim and the kinetic melodicism of Britain's Field Music. However, rather than coming off as imitators, Lionlimb have fully absorbed their influences, and Shoo never feels slavish, or like something less than the sources they are inspired by. Cuts like "Domino" and "Lemonade" mix singer/songwriter piano, organ, fuzztone guitar, and laid-back horns. Elsewhere, Bronaugh and Jaeger summon the fluorescent bell bottom spirit of E.L.O. on the soulful "Tinman," and the gooey, dreamlike "Hung," featuring yearning vocals from Olsen. Similarly, the jaunty, off-kilter "Blame Time," sounds like a perfect mix of T. Rex and Blur, while the expansive, jazzy "Wide Bed" evokes a lo-fi version of Astral Weeks-era Van Morrison. Ultimately, if Lionlimb can't help reminding you what good taste they have in music, it doesn't really matter, as Shoo is such a pleasant listen, you won't mind at all. ~ Matt Collar