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Boomkat Product Review:
A new collection of songs from musical polymath Peter Broderick, How They Are finds the prodigious singer, songwriter, arranger and multi-instrumentalist working his way through some of his most intimate recordings to date. The real standout proves to be 'Sideline', an opening track that begins with Broderick's voice alone and exposed in acappella mode before some lonesome piano chords join in. It's a beautiful piece that finds the songwriter's voice and tone evoking a mixture of Arthur Russell and Jackson Browne. Further down the tracklist, 'With A Key' reinforces this effect, offering further evidence that this is an artist whose writing has sharpened up considerably since his earliest forays. Switching to guitar, Broderick runs through an atmospheric Jim O'Rourke-like lope through 'Guilt's Tune', while fans of the minimal instrumental collection, Docile (on Kning Disk), will surely appreciate the wordless piano narratives of 'When I'm Out' and 'Pulling The Rain' - both representing clear advancements in this side of Broderick's output. These pieces at times bring to mind the work of Broderick's pal and musical cohort, Nils Frahm, something perhaps underlined by closing track 'Hello To Nils', a lovely piece about life on the road. It transpires to be a bit of a strange closer, featuring a spoken "old news/new news" passage that brings to mind one of Demetri Martin's deadpan comedy songs (albeit without the comedy, as such). While some fans may find themselves pining for the more neo-classical oriented end of Broderick's material, How They Are does well to focus on a single aspect of his work, presenting a concise and gratifying set of songs that serves as a generous between-albums release.