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Broken Home: Fragments

Both band name and album title could be seen as having two meanings on Fragments, the latest outing from Broken Home, who are based round Dicken, the mainstay in both this outfit and Mr Big (the one who had a hit with “Romeo” in the 70s and not the chaps who want to “...Be With You”). If you head over to the musician and singer’s website then you’ll find him talking about his ‘wonderful, wise mother in a broken home’ and also explaining that way back then you took what ‘fragments’ you could get and made the best of them. That would also appear to be the message behind this album, the Fragments in question here being a collection of recordings created over a lengthy period of time, with a variety of musicians, a breadth of styles and, in truth, varying sound quality. With the songs chosen between Dicken and Angel Air supremo, Peter Purnell - a process described by the guitarist and keyboard player as ‘...always a compromise for us all’ - it has maybe then been wise to give the collection a title that alludes to the fact that this isn’t an album created in the same circumstances as most.

Back in the mists of time Broken Home was formed by Dicken and bassist Pete Crowther and the latter is also in evidence across this album, although, probably due to the piecemeal creation, he’s not on every single song. However, with the ‘towering talent’ and keyboard man Paul Gibbon also lending a hand, there’s certainly no shortage of inspiration in the bits and pieces of Fragments. “When You’re Young” kicks things into gear, an almost 80s Americana feel melded with something much more stage-show in nature. It’s a beautifully constructed piece of pop-rock and with a melody line that’ll stay with you for a long time to come. However, the confusion of approaches comes thick and fast, with the howling “Rebel Children” much more of a rock strut and preen, even if, as is the case throughout, the lyrics are much more threatening and stark than the music might suggest.

With a 70s rock kick and rush “Fan The Flames” offers yet more new outlooks, but with a decidedly raw feel - we’re talking spruced up demo here with grating guitars, tinny drums and hoarsely vocalised high notes - it not only struggles against what’s come before, it actually gives you the impression that someone has changed the album you’re listening to. And if anything, that’s the main issue on a collection that bares its soul in a variety of ways; overtly candid themes explored with some stylish insight from Dicken and all manner of 70s and 80s rock and pop styles revealed. When you take into account the changes in ambience from song to song - clitter clatter drums on one song, soft, rounded percussive tones on the next - it definitely makes for a confusing journey.

However, the part that really matters is undoubtedly there. Each and every song possessing at least one aspect that truly catches the imagination, whether that be the bluesy shuffle scuffle of “Spirit”, the jingle-jangle strum of “New Adventure” or the smooth slick 70s harmonies and vocals of album highlight “Turn All Your Troubles Into Highways”. However, there’s no escaping the lo-fi feel of some of the tracks and if having a stellar production and crystal clear sound is vital to your enjoyment of an album, then there’s little doubt that some, if not all of Fragments will be a struggle. And yet, if you’re looking for sharp observational lyrics and equally sharp, if maybe slightly too diverse for its own good, pop rock, then you’ll find much to delight you here.

Track Listing
1. When You’re Young
2. Rebel Children
3. Fan The Flame
4. Spirit
5. Ship Without A Sail
6. New Adventure
7. Summer It Won’t Be Long
8. Lovely Ann
9. Abraham
10. Turn All Your Troubles Into Highways
11. I Can See The Rain
12. I’ll Be Yours
13. Danger
14. Been A Long Time War

Added: September 20th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Fragments at Angel Air
Hits: 427
Language: english

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