“When The World Seems Cold” by Branchwater

“When The World Seems Cold” by Branchwater

Record review

“When The World Seems Cold” by Branchwater
Review written by Seth Adam



Branchwater, a Litchfield County, CT based 4-piece, comes alive on their latest effort, “When The World Seems Cold” – a ten song album chock full of variety, rooted in a blues rock frame.In the intro to the first track, ‘Ride Symbol,’ the world does feel a bit cold while a lonely, clean Stratocaster gently paves the way for the sonic explosion to come. Suddenly, the band kicks in with drummer Elliott Hall at the helm, taking no prisoners with huge cymbal crashes and deep pocketed kick and snare hits. The guitar riff is undeniable blues rock, bold and brash, with a down home feel. Chris Connelly sings from the gut, pleading with whoever will listen that it’s simply time to go see the world.

In a daring move, the second track ‘Being Alone,’ features guest lead vocals by Kelly Brennan. The song takes a note from 60’s R&B with a slower tempo, bluesy guitar, sultry vocals, and vintage organ. This song would not be welcome on radio by today’s standards. However, if it was the late 60’s, surely the airwaves would be stocked with a song like this one.

Following in the footsteps of ‘Being Alone,’ ‘Nighttime’ comes up with a similar, albeit darker blues feel. With punctuated, synchronized hits during the verses, the band lays down a perfect bed for Mike Brightly’s sly, bluesy vocal lines. “Down by the crossroads, I saw a black dog” sings Brightly, with a nod to 60’s British blues. The gritty solo section (featuring differentiating solos between Connelly and Brightly on guitar and Henry Kavle on keys) are more than a nod to blues heroes of yesteryear – if you close your eyes, you’re there – down in the trenches with them.

‘Wake Me Up Mama’ is a shorter song on the album, with a more Southern rock feel, mixed in with the slightest bit of funkiness. Playful and danceable, the song must surely be a hit at a Branchwater live show.

At the midway point, the band offers ‘Harper’s Fairy’ – a song that strongly reminds this listener of Wilco song… something circa “A.M.” or “Being There.” Comparisons aside, ‘Harper’s Fairy’ sounds like a wonderful place, where you can have it all, or “every flavor you’ve ever known.”

‘High Tide’ leaves the blues sound of tracks previous, yielding to a composite Zeppelin/Skynard-esque rock song, complete with driving drums, slide guitar solos, and a desire to be born again, or at least cleansing of the soul. Singer Mike Brightly sincerely states: “High tide is coming, set me free.”

A broken heart is no reason to feel sad by the time we get to ‘I Was Wronged.’ In fact, it’s time to celebrate the newfound freedom, pack up your belongings, take a train and introduce yourself to a new someone. Connelly forwardly asks, “Lovely lady, is this seat taken?” No time to waste after being wronged – the world is a big place, with lots of people and full of energy. Just like the world, ‘I Was Wronged’ is a huge, energetic track with a crushing guitar riff, train-like drums, and a drive to make right on being “wronged.”

‘So Long’ is a departure from the rock and blues, proving that Branchwater has a multitude of influence. The track bounces with a jam-band-ish funk riff, with an unseen combination of female harmony vocals, reminiscent of The Supremes. Once again, drummer Elliott Hall keeps the rhythm driving with the solid bass foundation of John Carroll.

‘While The Other Is Asleep’ is certainly the drum showpiece for Hall, tackling a complex repetitive rhythm for the verses and unlike anything else on the record. The song jumps in between the hard-rock blues, to the sultry, distorted wailing of drunken longing. Brightly cries, “…and you throw me aside, don’t you see baby, all the lonely times I cried…” The guitar solo section is blues-rock on a devious combination of alcohol and caffeine – driving steady, yet sad and yearning as Hell. Once again we are treated to an organ solo by Henry Kavle, giving ‘While The Other Is Asleep’ the title of “musicianship showpiece” for this record.

Closing out the record is the title track, ‘When The World Seems So Cold,’ a traditional gospel standard, written by Jimmie Davis. This is Branchwater paying homage to what surely must be one of the ultimate influences for this band. The stripped down arrangement, featuring only guitar by Mike Brightly and vocals by Brightly and Hall (hey – the drummer sings too!), is a beautiful, classy closer, ensuring the respect that this band deserves.

From top to bottom, “When The World Seems Cold” is a strong endeavor by Branchwater and should certainly solidify the credit they are entitled too. Additionally, credit must be given to Kyle Ryan for tight engineering and mixing.


Twitter: @branchwaterbnd


Singer/songwriter Seth Adam writes compelling, genuine songs with honest lyrics. The alt-country, rootsy rocker draws comparisons to Counting Crows, Tom Petty, and Son Volt.

His latest studio release, “Steel Tempered Pride”, delves further into folk, Americana, alt-country, and psychedelic explorations than previous efforts.

Not one to rely on trends of popular music, this self-described “scrapper” takes a page out of the Lucinda Williams instruction book by performing frequently and writing deeply personal, heartfelt rock & roll songs. He has shared the stage with Grammy-winning Steep Canyon Rangers, Grammy-winning Robert Cray, Tonic, Vertical Horizon, Carbon Leaf, The Alternate Routes, Will Hoge, Gary Louris (The Jayhawks), Ken and Drew from Sister Hazel, Grammy-nominated YARN, and Mayer Hawthorne, has had a song licensed to Volkswagen, and was described by entertainment columnist Roger Friedman as “the hardest-working best live act in indie rock.”

His latest record, “Steel Tempered Pride”, was released on September 24, 2013 and features production credits by David Immerglück (Counting Crows, Camper Van Beethoven) on two tracks – ‘Push And Pull’ and ‘Old Broken Ladder’ (Immerglück also played bass on these tunes). The record also features bass performances by The Alternate Routes’ guitarist, Eric Donnelly (‘New York City Bound’, ‘Troubled Times’) and drum performances by “Ramblin’” Rob Heath (Justin Townes Earle, The Madison Square Gardeners) on ‘Old Broken Ladder’ and ‘Push And Pull’. Electric guitars and harmony vocals from Gerry Giaimo, mandolin and harmony vocals from John Jackson, drums from Dennis DeMorro and Steve Tobey round out the rest of the tracks on “Steel Tempered Pride”.

Seth was a finalist – Best Country/Americana category – 3rd Annual CT Music Awards (2014)



Twitter: @SethAdam

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