When we first heard Coldplay's "Yellow," we thought it was Dave Matthews with a new backing band. When we first heard Blue Merle, we thought it was Coldplay's Chris Martin backed by a latter-day Dave

When we first heard Coldplay's "Yellow," we thought it was Dave Matthews with a new backing band. When we first heard Blue Merle, we thought it was Coldplay's Chris Martin backed by a latter-day Dave Matthews Band. While there may be nothing inherently wrong with the comparisons, there is something amiss when slick production and plain vanilla arrangements trump what could otherwise be a solid Americana release. Blue Merle's "Burning in the Sun" was unsurprisingly produced by Stephen Harris, the man behind Matthews' "Busted Stuff"; reverb floweth, as does unremarkable lyricism and contrived grit. While the four members of Blue Merle certainly have talent, their grassroots charm and raw edges are reduced to drab track after drab track, with each personality (and mandolinist) eking through gradually but only making strides after it's too late.—KH

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