It is official: Todd Herfindal (Her-fin-doll) is my new songwriting hero. The Meadows frontman released this 11 track set of solo tunes aptly titled, “Collective” on September 29 and fans of shimmering jangle pop everywhere need to take note.
As with most debut solo releases, you kind of fear that the tunes may just be stray leftovers that were not up to snuff for their band. This is certainly not the case with the tunes on “Collective”, each one is capable of standing up to the quality of any track on the Meadows CDs. Having released two full-length Meadows CDs and now this solo CD (not counting his numerous collaborations) since 2004, he is one of the most prolific singer/songwriters of the day. More impressive than that, I do not believe I’ve ever heard a bad song penned by Herfindal.
Despite being a literal collection of songs from over the years that for some reason or other did not find their way onto a Meadows CD, “Collective” plays seamlessly like a premeditated full-length studio project. The CD is entirely consistent and works well as a cohesive release. As a whole, the material is not too different than The Meadows, so we’re talking sounds like The Jayhawks, Tom Petty, and the more rocking side of Counting Crows. Herfindal has one of the best voices for this genre of music, with great instincts on when to throw in a growl and when to let things simmer.
“Air I’m Breathing” is a wonderful way to start the CD – Todd’s voice is always like a blast of fresh air, and the lyrical theme is a great daily affirmation: “I won’t waste another day on little things that don’t mean nothing”. “Waiting on the Sun” is another bright spot – a little more laid back with some greasy slide guitar and gleeful harmonies. “Won’t Look Back” is a classic Herfindal ballad and his emotive vocal instincts soar above the lush string accompaniment. We leap back to foot stomping, sing-a-long action with “Forget It All Again”, which laments “Maybe someday we’ll learn half of what we need to know and forget it all again by tomorrow”. “This Is A Love Song” is a beautiful acoustic driven ballad with another subdued, but brilliant vocal performance. “Here We Are” showcases his alt-country side, a happy romp featuring some tastefully placed accordion, brush drumming, and gentle strumming. One of my favorite tracks, “So Let Me In” features one of the funkiest verse grooves I’ve heard Herfindal write – their juxtaposition with the super melodic chorus works perfectly and highlights this man’s skill as a songwriter.