The Autumn Defense

The Autumn Defense | Broadmoor
By MIKAEL WOOD  |  March 12, 2007
2.5 2.5 Stars
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An amiable soft-rock duo comprising two members of Wilco, bassist John Stirratt and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone, the Autumn Defense provide a refuge for alt-country traditionalists vexed by Wilco’s increasing artiness. On their third full-length, the Chicago-based Stirratt and Sansone never allow their fondness for studio-geek texture to obscure a balmy melodic sense derived from old Carpenters and Steely Dan records; where Jeff Tweedy embroiders tidy Dust Bowl jangle with shards of big-city guitar noise, these two are happy to let mellowness linger. That doesn’t mean they aren’t canny arrangers: opener “Canyon Arrow” rides a tasty yacht-rock groove complete with airy flute trills, and the wistful vocal harmonies in “Winterlight” channel the pensive folk-rock vibe of classic Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. But as the product of two guys who probably don’t get a lot of songwriting ideas past Boss Tweedy, this disc is a showcase for some undervalued compositional chops.

The Autumn Defense + The Singleman Affair + Jennifer Jackson | Middle East upstairs, 472 Mass Ave, Cambridge | March 20 | 617.864.EAST
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