Broken Fences
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Broken Fences

Verona, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF

Verona, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Band Folk Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Broken Fences"

My most recent discovery is Broken Fences, an acoustic duo who’ve just released their self-titled debut. (I admit that I first learned of them via my students, so kudos to the Local Limelite team at WIUP-FM.)

Broken Fences includes Pittsburgh native Guy Russo and Morgan Erina, who hails from New York City. After meeting at one of Pittsburgh’s most storied open-mic nights (at Club Cafe on the city’s South Side), Erina and Russo raised money through a Kickstarter campaign to finance the recording and production of their first album. The result is a spellbinding LP of heartfelt lyrics, intricate acoustic arrangements, and the best blended vocal harmonies that I’ve heard in some time. (For the record, their harmonies are no less impressive live.)

On a personal note, this type of musical formula (acoustic duo pour their hearts out in harmony) has immense potential for pretentiousness. Broken Fences’ lack of pretense is part of what makes their music so appealing. The duo effectively write lyrics that are straightforward, but have great emotional depth, relateable without employing cliches. Rest assured – this isn’t your run of the mill “coffee house” bullshit. It’s simply some of the most sincere, affecting, and beautifully arranged music that I’ve heard this year – in Pittsburgh or elsewhere.

Broken Fences’ self-titled debut is out now on CD and in a name-your-price digital format via

Check out “Simplicity,” one of my personal favorites from the album: - GONZO, Popblerd!

"Pittsburgh band Broken Fences finds a beautiful harmony"

Indie band Broken Fences, releasing its debut album with a sold-out show at Club Cafe on Friday, sounds like Pittsburgh's answer to The Swell Season, with gorgeous harmonies from Morgan Erina and Guy Russo.

Ms. Erina is a 24-year-old singer-songwriter from New York whose friendship with Justin Sane of Anti-Flag brought her to Pittsburgh a few years ago. They intended to collaborate, but found it difficult to mesh schedules, especially with him running all over the world.

She started attending the AcoustiCafe sessions on Monday nights at Club Cafe and impressing the regulars with her intimate songs and pure pretty vocals. Mr. Russo, who studied music composition at Carnegie Mellon and works as a piano tuner and singer for hire, got a tip from guitarist friend Nathan Zoob that he had to see her.

He did and then "we went out for drinks afterwards and really hit it off," the Forest Hills native says of their meeting two years ago. "A week later we got together and learned a couple covers, a Beatles song and a James Taylor song, went out and played an open mike and people really liked how our voices sounded together."

He's gotten used to hearing comparisons to The Swell Season, the pairing of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova from the Oscar-winning movie "Once," but has yet to see the indie Irish film and says, "I hadn't even heard the song 'Falling Slowly' until after we started playing together. It's funny, because Glen Hansard, he grew up best friends with Mark Dignam, who is opening for us [Friday], and has been instrumental in giving us a lot of guidance. But I didn't know anything about Swell Season or Glen Hansard until after Broken Fences got started."

After working through those first cover tunes, they started writing the songs that would make up this debut record that was recorded at Treelady Studios with the rhythm section of Dave Throckmorton and Jason Rafalak, and various string players adding mood and texture.

"Morgan is almost savant-like in how prolific she is as a songwriter," he says. "She can write great songs like almost every day. The first six or eight months of working with her was by far the most prolific part of my life as a writer."

Mr. Russo (whose father of the same name is the musical director of Pittsburgh Savoyards) says one of them will usually bring in about 90 percent of a song and then "we'll learn from each other's vocabulary."
The 12-song debut is a gem that combines gentle acoustic folk ("Locked Inside"), folk-blues ("Fairy Tale") and full-blown melancholy rockers ("Song for You" and "Today It's Raining on Just You"). The pretty album closer, "Wait," was featured on the CBS drama "Flashpoint" last winter.
He says of their approach to writing, "We both definitely are emotion-driven people and songwriting is very cathartic for both of us. We don't do a whole lot of story songs or ballads. We write so we don't have to feel quite as much."

Scott Mervis:; 412-263-2576; Twitter: @scottmervis_pg; Blog:

First Published May 31, 2012 12:00 am

Read more: - Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


2011: Wait (single)
2012: Broken Fences (LP)



Morgan Erina & Guy Russo began writing and performing together as Broken Fences in 2010, and have developed a sound that suggests a meeting between Bon Iver and Simon & Garfunkel. Theyve taken their two vastly different worldviews (Shes from NYC, hes from Pittsburgh, PA), and melded them into an honest and powerful style of indie-folk, one thats as current as it is timeless.

They may look young, but Guy & Morgan have years of musical experience and training behind them. Morgan Erina, twenty-three, is already an industry veteran, having headlined a national tour, and recorded several albums of solo material. Though born and raised in the Bronx, NY, she followed family friend and musical collaborator Justin Sane of Anti-Flag to Pittsburgh in the summer of 2010. Since then shes shot to the top of the folk scene, landing on the cover of the September, 2010 issue of the City Paper and selling out shows across the city. Guy Russo, in turn, grew up in Forest Hills, a suburb of Pittsburgh, and has sung and led choirs since hes been old enough to perform. He has a unique talent for crafting beautiful, unexpected harmonies, and has acquired a reputation as the go-to arranger for many of Pittsburghs top songwriters.

Though they come from different sides of the fence, the musical bond that Guy & Morgan share is indelible, and instantly recognizable. They are a markedly prolific pair the two wrote enough songs to fill several albums before recording a single note. In December of 2011 the duos first single, Wait, was featured on Ion networks hit drama Flashpoint, and then again in August of 2012 on USAs Necessary Roughness.

The duos stunning debut LP, Broken Fences, is now available in digital and physical formats. The album has achieved wide critical and fan acclaim. Crystal harmonies, intense live performances and tremendous songwriting talent have marked Broken Fences the new group to watch out of Pittsburgh.

Band Members