I Am The Branch – Drink Tea

I Am The Branch
Drink Tea

It’s a tough thing to be a “guy and a guitar” act. You need something to stand apart form the crowd but something that allows you to remain honest with yourself. What Robbie Pieschke has done is to simplify things, strip everything down to the barest essentials while maintaining a full band sound. Under the name I Am The Branch, Pieschke keps everything simple, from the music and lyrics while shrouding it all in a curious moniker and album title, Drink Tea.

The 6 songs on the debut from I Am The Branch are performed with such fragility you fear they would break if you were to listen too close. Notes feel intricately placed around changing time signatures and patterns and while emotive, the vocals never seem to rise above a conversational tone. This alone would make for a pleasant listen, and with its short length, the soundtrack to midday break. However the simplicity and repetition of the lyrics make for an occasionally trying experience.

The instrumental “Drink Tea” opens the album and while beginning nicely enough tends to drag on for its 4 minutes. There is no real movement to the song, the same pattern repeating and again, while enjoyable enough, it wears out its welcome as an introduction. Pieschke, who performed all guitar, bass, and vocal duties, sure wears his heart on his sleeve. His delivery is more than an ode to Jeremy Enigk and the words themselves aren’t nearly as expressive.

In fact Drink Tea sounds a lot like a high school project, full of the feelings and emotions of confused teens shuffling head down through the halls. “I’m the walking tightrope/and you tied the line just right this time” Pieschke croons over a Red House Painters like guitar. The EP is full of awkward lines such as these, the worst offender being “The Science of Silence,” not nearly the introspective piece it’s meant to be. Where a stray line here and there isn’t enough to put an album off completely there isn’t much else to support them. So what’s left are such confessions repeated until the awkwardness dissolves and sheer uncomfortably sets in.

Musically there’s a lot to like from I Am The Branch. It’s a gentle folky emo-esque album that shows promise. Until the lyrics mature to match the sound however there’s room for improvement.