EVERYONE IS HERE (Nettwerk) The Finn Brothers
Pictured on the album cover along the Waikato River near their hometown of Te Awamutu, New Zealand's classic brothers act is looking two different directions, neither of them into the camera. In the high weeds under a darkening sky, the still waters are a canvas of reflection, much like this current album seems to have been for Tim and Neil, and it's a long road worth pondering.
Family is the strongest theme, and it plays out in many ways. Their mother died four years ago, and without direct reference beyond the dedication, her spirit abides. Neil said in a recent interview that she'd have been the first one to say "Aw, for God's sake..." to belaboring sentimentality.
Still, it's not a love song record or the poppiest disc the brothers have ever done, and good for us all. They started on the beach at Piha, New Zealand's West Coast, a couple of years ago to write songs for this project. It's more direct and emotional lyrically than they're known to be, and features many friends of old. Keyboardist and co-producer Mitch Froom (who worked on most of their studio records, including Woodface) is here in force, and Bob Clearmountain was called in to mix, recalling the winning studio team. Jon Brion plays guitars and keyboards and co-produced the closing gem "Gentle Hum." As the project moved over time through London and Los Angeles, the rhythm section that came aboard was Matt Chamberlain (David Bowie/Macy Gray) on drums and Sebastian Steinberg (Soul Coughing) on bass, and a cast of cohorts contribute select tracks.
The album opens with the single "Won't Give In," which sets the tone. Twelve string plays a melody over a pedaling bass, harmony begins on the verse, piano in as the chorus arrives, ah...finally, another Finn Brothers record. Their undeniably classic vocal sound rings over strings on the opening of the next tune, "Nothing Wrong With You." Tony Visconti's orchestrations are a luminous contribution.
The door to the rest of this warm and welcome record gets thrown open by the explosive "Anything Can Happen." Then I'm in the pocket I was looking for, and let it come over me. It's not cheeky or angular, it's a new roundness to the duo, I dig it.
They're some of the best pop musicians we've had in our time. Split Enz, Crowded House, great solo records, and now, after too long, Everyone is Here. Check it out on the Listen page, and get it from Nettwerk Records, here.