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One won't be enough

Allied Gardens
Allied Gardens
By Allied Gardens

Self-released: 2007

This review first appeared in the December 13, 2007 issue of the North County Times.

A local folkie all-star confab consisting of Sven-Erik Seaholm, Peter Bolland and Michael Tiernan, Allied Gardens (named after the San Diego neighborhood along Mission Gorge Road between the stadium and Mission Trails Regional Park) is a fun little side project that delivers some of the best songs each of the three has written.

Whether it's their personal friendships or their familiarity with one another's musicianship, there's a sense of both comfort and of pushing things here that's not always been evident on their other recordings. Tiernan, in particular, really elevates his singing here – belting out the lyrics in a larger than life voice that lends a greater muscularity to his songs. But Bolland and Seaholm, too, whose music is tougher than Tiernan's introspective, thoughtful folk songs, are nevertheless somehow more confident in this outing.

Another interesting aspect about listening to this CD is that Bolland (lead singer of The Coyote Problem) is a country singer at heart, Tiernan is a contemporary folk singer, and Seaholm (lead singer of The Wild Truth) is a rock 'n' roller. And so while this is an all-acoustic set, the fact that they alternate the lead singer from song to song (with each man apparently taking lead on the songs he wrote) creates a nice sense of variety.

Each man contributes three songs, in alternating order, and then they join forces to trade verses on an inspired cover of Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released."

Their guitar playing meshes well together (as they back each other on all the tracks), their different musical styles complement one another nicely.

While this project seems a one-off, an excuse for the three friends to get to hang out with each other and justify it as business, that closing track in which they tackle Dylan achieves such a musical glow (with shades of Crosby Stills & Nash on their vocal harmonies) that local acoustic fans should simply demand that they record another one together.