Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., May 24, 2002
Orange MothersTraditional Love (Jim Thunder) In 10-plus years of existence, the Orange Mothers have evolved from a ragtag band of psychedelic nomads into a somewhat remarkable organic pop troupe. Traditional Love, the Austin quartet's fourth outing, furthers the promise of 2000's Big Blue House with simple lyrics that achieve universality through subtle ambiguity and warm instrumentation that rings out like an invitation to fellowship. Guitarist/songwriter/vocalist Ethan Azarian might not have the pipes to pull off an overwrought Diane Warren epic, but the placid, everyman quality of his vocal on the title track elucidates the serenity of contented love in a manner that's at once magical and down to earth. Similarly, the richly connective piano tapestry provided by James Welch elevates the Mothers' pop-based musical approach to a higher plane. Perhaps the flip side of "Traditional Love" is "Rollercoaster Girl," a lament about falling in and out of love with an unbearably cool scenester in a town too small for two broken hearts. Then you have songs like "Lullaby" and "Heartache" that revel in a sweet, childlike innocence, acting as effervescent elixirs for when you get dealt cards of loneliness and sorrow. Though it requires some degree of faithful contrivance for an adult to maintain such a world-view, there's nothing less than honest in the Orange Mothers' paeans to small wonders.