Modelled somewhat on The Civil Wars, The Sweeplings fail to gather much traction here.
The Sweeplings have an odd history behind them. Alabama songwriter Whitney Dean’s wife was watching America’s Got Talent one night and reckoned that a singer on the show, Cami Bradley would be a perfect vocal fit for a song her hubby was working on. Long story short, the pair teamed up as The Sweeplings and have released two albums and a slew of EPs over the past ten years. They have been compared to The Civil Wars, an easy trick given that Dean has played with John Paul White (who appears on this album) but they have a bit of a way to go before they can stand up to the comparison.
‘Debris’, their third full-length offering, treads a fine path between ostentatious pop and a more fragile introspection. The lead single ‘Shipwrecks’ builds from its folky opening into a fully-fledged, chorus driven anthem while the opening song, ‘Hush (What A Mess)’ is a smouldering and somewhat overwhelming concatenation of whispery vocals and dramatic studio production. Bradley’s mannered vocals however are used to good effect on the tender ballad which is ‘I’m Not OK’ where she is assisted by piano and acoustic guitar along with Dean’s harmony voice. Likewise, on ‘You Never Know’, although here Dean sounds as if his voice is autotuned.
Likewise is the watchword for the remainder of the album as the duo offer several songs which blend into one another. Bradley sounds bereft while Dean’s music attempts to comfort her. A short piano and string section instrumental towards the end does offer some variety but the song it leads into, the closing ‘What If I Miss It All’, is again, just too well behaved for its own sake. There’s obviously been a lot of work put into its gossamer like construction but there’s a lack of passion which ultimately sweeps The Sweeplings into that limbo of just sounding, well, nice.