Album Reviews: The Ditty Bops by Ditty Bops"With just one kiss, you could change the world/Might not be much better, but it certainly couldn't hurt." With these opening verses, The Ditty Bops set the tone on their remarkable self-titled debut, a sunny, wistful waltz through old-timey, finger-pickin' tunes, gorgeous two-part harmonies, and joyful yet world-weary lyrics. Other groups have explored this intersection between modern folk-pop and vintage country/bluegrass twang, but few have pulled it off with such panache.
The tracks that immediately leap out at you are the uptempo numbers, which resemble what the Squirrel Nut Zippers might sound like if Gillian Welch fronted the band. "Wishful Thinking" and the Dixieland classic "Sister Kate" are rollicking delights, propelled by a crack group of session musicians assembled by ace producer Mitchell Froom. But the tracks that really reward repeat listens are the quieter numbers, which showcase Abby DeWald and Amanda Barrett's ghostly harmonies and off-kilter melodies. Delicate tunes like "Pale Yellow" and "Breeze Black Night" are astonishingly well-crafted folk-pop, recalling and sometimes surpassing the best work of two other great Froom collaborators, Jonatha Brooke and Suzanne Vega.
Hopefully the too-cutesy cover art won't distract listeners and critics from recognizing The Ditty Bops for what it is -- the most promising neo-folk debut since Gillian Welch's Revival. A must-have for fans of smart, acoustic pop. - Andy Hermann
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