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Record Review


While supergroups are usually risky ventures, the recent merger of talented singer/songwriters Shawn Mullins, Matthew Sweet and Pete Droge is an intriguing incorporation. Throaty Decatur folk-rocker Mullins, pop hookmeister Sweet and underrated roots-rocker Droge certainly have the required skills to produce a shimmering masterpiece.

On their self-titled debut, The Thorns' three-part harmonies blend as one gentle voice with Mullins handling the deeper tones, Droge in the middle and Sweet reaching angelic heights. The result is a pleasing reflection of the '70s Warner/Elektra/Asylum stable of earnest and engaging West Coast folk-rockers.

The mellow gold glow of "Runaway Feeling," "I Can't Remember" and especially "Think It Over" recall that prototypical folk-rock conglomerate Crosby, Stills & Nash meshed with Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks. Yet often the Thorns -- evidently to honor the collaborative group spirit -- seem to halter their normal tendencies, failing to play to their unique strengths.

Sweet's sparkling pop-rock sensibilities highlight "Thorns," with its driving guitars, the tune is a brief respite from the earthy acoustic vibe that dominates the project. "I Set the World on Fire" also burns, though it's not necessarily a harbinger for the mass-marketable future of the CD.

The cynical among us might allege that The Thorns is merely an effort to revive three lagging solo careers. Yet sharpest the moments for these three remain on their own releases.

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