The Autumn Defense

John Stirratt and Patrick Sansone could be the next Simon and Garfunkel. Though based in Chicago, the two men who constitute the Autumn Defense create acoustic guitar-based soft ballads with gorgeous harmonies that elicit the gentle warmth of the California sun. As with the Summer Hymns, one can almost feel the weather this band's name evokes, the pensive and peaceful swaying of branches and leaves, on their 2000 debut The Green Hour and EP Birds, Beasts, and Flowers. The duo certainly has a strong sense of tradition; Stirratt was a member of both Uncle Tupelo and Wilco, while Sansone has worked with everyone from Josh Rouse to Joseph Arthur. In fact, the songwriters began collaborating after Stirratt finished the infamous Mermaid Avenue sessions with Billy Bragg and Wilco. The group's self-titled third album, recently released through Stirratt's Broadmoor label, should cement their place in the adult contemporary canon, as songs such as "The Canyon Arrow" and "Winterlight" incorporate exotic trumpet sounds like that of Jethro Tull or Cat Stevens to accent their Americana themes. Finally, there's a show worth taking your mom to.


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