Brandon Clark and The American Standard’s “Honestly EP”

From Atlanta, GA, Brandon Clark and The American Standard are making waves on their most recent release, “Honestly EP.” Holly believes the record shows promise for their future as a band.

Holly Etchison
Brandon Clark Honestly EP

out of 10

Honestly EP
March 9, 2010

Honesty, as they say, is a good policy, and in songwriting I would say the straight shooter usually hits the mark (or close to it). Brandon Clark, in his first foray with a backup band, is offering up five catchy, driving on a sunny day tunes; The kind you could dedicate to someone on your local radio station’s version of “Love Notes,” without too much regret.  Or enjoy swaying to while holding a plastic cup in a large crowd–picture a Friday night at Athens’ Georgia Theatre, had it not burned down. Paul Lynch (guitar), Chris Zeigler (bass), and Paul Hodges (drums) provide an adequate background for his musings as ‘The American Standard’ on their debut ep Honestly.

The opening song, “Anchor,” is a solid introduction to the album, perhaps the hit maker of the bunch. Paul Lynch inserts a well-timed (though not unexpected) guitar solo, offsetting the romantic sentiment:

You could’ve been anyone
You could have been anywhere
But you’re here
Now you’re here with me

“It’s You” follows things up quickly and happily.  The mandolin a reminder that you’re close to the country, or that your heart longs to be. The singer has found that though the world was his oyster, the pearl inside is found in one person. Nice.  More intense vocals, a jazzy beat, and driving guitar set a tone for “The Rain” as a slightly predictable dual-metaphor for troubled times and cleansing:

Don’t let the rain take you down
Wash it down ‘cause it might not start again

“Restless” relates the urge to wander, where your insides want to get up and go.  The dilemma of the wayfarer, the incredible Hulk, the troubadour, goes, “No one here quite knows me, I guess I’ll give it time.”  Wanting to be known, but unable to settle in long enough for that to happen.

Rounding things up is the quaintly satisfying “That List.”  A love song, and a promise to a woman that the singer will provide no cause for his name to be added to her list, which includes “Those to forgive, those to forget, those to pass on, those to regret.”  An exhortation for Rapunzel to let down her long hair, but giving her the freedom to say no:

Say what you want
Do what you feel
I want you to believe in me
To know I’m real

As things fade into silence, I have found these songs, albeit honest, widely accessible. This is not a bad thing–Tom Petty proved it could be done with aplomb–I am the “American girl,“ you are the “Refugee,” we are all “Free Falling.”  There is no intricate symbolism here or difficult prose–just some Georgia boys, a little bit folksy, a little bit rock’n’roll, a little bit Bebo Norman.  But there is a sense of sincerity, and most of us will take sincere over tricky six days out of seven. Brandon Clark seems to know where the heart is, and that is refreshing. His debut with the American Standard, while not necessarily groundbreaking, holds promise for things to come.