Friday, November 17, 2017

Grateful Dead: “Dave’s Picks Volume 23” (2017) CD Review

The show the Grateful Dead did at the University of Oregon in January of 1978 is known mainly for Jerry Garcia’s jam on the theme to Close Encounters Of The Third Kind in the second set. The spaceship is even incorporated into the artwork for the cover of Dave’s Picks Volume 23, which contains the complete show the Dead did on January 22, 1978 at McArthur Court. But that little jam is far from being the only highlight of the show. This was certainly one of those special nights for the band and for the audience. I attended the University Of Oregon, but fifteen years after this performance, and so saw the Dead play at Autzen Stadium rather than Mac Court. Still, those were some good shows (two in 1993, three in 1994). The band tended to feel at home in Eugene, and delivered excellent shows there.

The January 22, 1978 show begins with a bang – a rockin’ version of “New Minglewood Blues,” with Bob Weir going at it full-force, so that I actually believe him when he sings, “I was born in a desert, raised in a lion’s den.” Bob then tells the crowd that it doesn’t sound at all like it did during the soundcheck, but assures everyone, “We’re going to get our act together real quick here.” They do a pretty good “Dire Wolf,” and then a smooth, pretty, yet energetic rendition of “Cassidy.” The band then eases into a gentle and wonderful rendition of “Peggy-O.” Listen to the way Jerry’s voice breaks on the word “love” in the line “Our captain fell in love with a lady like a dove.” It’s kind of delightful and wonderful. “El Paso” is good, but things really get going with “Tennessee Jed.” Sure, Jerry’s voice is struggling a bit at moments, but that somehow only works to make the song more interesting, more passionate, more powerful. And, hey, there are unusual touches on guitar here too, and the jam toward the end of the song has its own particular flavor. It’s followed by a version of “Jack Straw” that likewise has its own alleys and avenues, the band trying different things, and everything they try seems to work beautifully. The song attains some wild, high level, a peak they maintain longer than you might think possible, but for exactly the right amount of time, before easing out again. That’s followed by a seriously nice “Row Jimmy.” The first set then concludes with that fun dance number, “The Music Never Stopped.” “They’re a band beyond description,” indeed (though we keep trying, don’t we?).

The second disc contains the first portion of the second set, the band kicking it off with “Bertha.” It’s weird, but it sounds like Jerry’s microphone is off for the first couple of lines; yet, I’ve heard an audience recording of this show where those lines were clearly audible. What’s up with that? “Bertha” leads straight into a rousing and totally fun rendition of “Good Lovin’.” They slow things down a bit then with “Ship Of Fools.” But this version has its own power, and is one of the best renditions I’ve heard. The second disc concludes with a high-energy version of “Samson And Delilah.”

The third disc contains the rest of the second set and the encore. And this, as you might guess, is where things get really interesting. The version of “Terrapin Station” that opens this disc is quite good, with glorious peaks and valleys. Listen to Bill and Mickey during the jam. It’s no surprise then that they launch into a drum solo following that song. It’s an unusual solo too, keeping a steady beat at the start, though with a trippy effect. And they just roll on from there. It’s a very cool “Drums,” giving the crowd lots of good grooves to move to. Toward the end, there are hints of where they’re going, and the crowd reacts. And then – bam – the band thrusts us all into “The Other One.” I’m always excited to hear how the band will tackle this particular song, because they’ve done it so many different ways. This time they begin with an energetic jam, more forceful than trippy. The band knows where it’s going and doesn’t want to let up or relax until it gets there, and maybe not even then. They do still venture into strange territory, of course, after the first verse, when things become a little weird, unsettled. And after the second verse, the song takes on a different tone, an urgent feel, and that leads into “Space,” the part of this show that every Dead fan is aware of, when Jerry Garcia takes an actual solo, and dips into that familiar Close Encounters theme. (And hey, to me, U of O always sounded like UFO anyway.) It’s certainly worth listening to, something that was never repeated. And it leads straight into the always-appreciated “St. Stephen.” This is a damn good version. From there, the band goes right into “Not Fade Away,” returning us to Earth with that and another early rock and roll number, Chuck Berry’s “Around And Around.” But listen to that fun stuff on guitar and bass at the beginning of “Not Fade Away.”  The band just continues to surprise us at this show. This version of “Not Fade Away” features a nice long jam. And even “Around And Around” is interesting, especially as they get really quiet with it at one point. The encore is “U.S. Blues,” something we all have these days. It’s a good, solid, rocking rendition.

CD Track List

Disc 1
  1. New Minglewood Blues
  2. Dire Wolf
  3. Cassidy
  4. Peggy-O
  5. El Paso
  6. Tennessee Jed
  7. Jack Straw
  8. Row Jimmy
  9. The Music Never Stopped 
Disc 2
  1. Bertha >
  2. Good Lovin’
  3. Ship Of Fools
  4. Samson And Delilah
Disc 3
  1. Terrapin Station >
  2. Drums >
  3. The Other One >
  4. Space >
  5. St. Stephen >
  6. Not Fade Away >
  7. Around And Around
  8. U.S. Blues
Dave’s Picks Volume 23 was limited to 16,500 copies.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sinne Eeg: “Dreams” (2017) CD Review

Danish vocalist Sinne Eeg’s new album, Dreams, her follow-up to 2015’s Eeg-Fonnesbaek, was recorded in New York with mostly American musicians. Unlike her previous album, this one features mostly original material, written or co-written by Sinne Eeg, and it shows just how talented a songwriter she is. I was already well aware from that last release of how great a singer she is. Joining her on this album are Jacob Christoffersen on piano, Larry Koonse on guitar, Joey Baron on drums and Scott Colley on bass. Warny Mandrup, Lasse Nilsson and Jenny Nilsson provide backing vocals.

The album opens with an original track, “The Bitter End,” a very cool tune. I was kind of in love with this tune even before Sinne’s vocals began, with that wonderful work on bass and drums. And then when Sinne’s vocals begin, the first line, “I could whisper lots of stupid things,” increased my passion for this song. There’s also a wonderful instrumental section with some delightful work on keys. This is an excellent, positive track from beginning to end. It was written by Sinne Eeg and Søren Sko. “We might stand a chance to make it to the bitter end.” That’s followed by “Head Over High Heels,” and its playful title is matched by a playfulness in Sinne’s vocal line. What is remarkable is how her vocals somehow seem effortless, completely natural, like someone surprised her by handing her a microphone and she just let this song come out. I also love the bass and that wonderful guitar part. “Head Over High Heels” was written by Sinne Eeg and Mads Mathias.

Just as its title promises, “Love Song” is a timeless, gorgeous love song. I’m so glad to know songs like this are still being written. If you are in need of a little romance, playing this song should help you get there. “No matter where the road will lead us/Near or far/I won’t ever let you go.” It features some seriously enjoyable work on guitar. That’s followed by the CD’s first cover, “What Is This Thing Called Love” by Cole Porter, himself a master of the timeless love song. This is an interesting rendition, beginning with vocals and percussion, which will certainly grab your attention, and including some scat. Then, when the rest of the musicians join in, this track features wonderful work on piano and bass. It’s followed by another cover, keeping with the theme of questioning the notion of love, Rodgers and Hart’s “Falling In Love With Love.” Sinne Eeg delivers a pretty rendition, with some light scat.

“Dreams,” the CD’s title track, is likewise a pretty song, with vocals but no lyrics. It does have a pleasant dream-like quality to it, in part because of that lack of lyrics. Sinne’s vocals feel capable of gently and safely carrying you across a glorious landscape. This track, however, is not without a good groove. There is an instrumental section with some strong work on bass and piano, and the song has a beautiful build to it.

The album concludes with two covers, “I’ll Remember April” and “Anything Goes.” There is something kind of fanciful about her take on “I’ll Remember April,” a song written by Gene De Paul, Patricia Johnston and Don Raye. It features a bit of gentle scat. Sinne Eeg does an absolutely wonderful job with Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes,” accompanied only by Jacob Christoffersen on piano. This track is a lot of fun, and is one of my favorites. The song’s original lyrics featured then timely lines, and Sinne Eeg adds some lyrics pertinent to the state of things today: “There was a time when talent mattered/When singers were being flattered on TV shows/Now anything goes/A lie was once a lie, but actual/Fake news are now post-factual, I suppose/Anything goes/The world has gone mad today.” And these: “If people think it’s presidential/To rule thanks to influential Russian foes/Anything goes/I guess just about anything goes these days.” Yes, that is certainly how it feels these days.

CD Track List
  1. The Bitter End
  2. Head Over High Heels
  3. Love Song
  4. What Is This Thing Called Love
  5. Falling In Love With Love
  6. Dreams
  7. Aleppo
  8. Time To Go
  9. I’ll Remember April
  10. Anything Goes
Dreams was released on October 6, 2017.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Julia Weldon: “Comatose Hope” (2017) CD Review

Comatose Hope, the new album by singer and songwriter Julia Weldon, is something special. It features all original material, songs that resonate emotionally, songs of depth and beauty, songs you’ll connect to. Hers is a voice reaching out from the darkness, quite literally actually, as many of these songs came about after she emerged from a coma following surgery. There is something ethereal about her delivery, yet also something grounded, like she has taken something from that strange place where she dwelled and was able to shape it into these songs, and in doing so to share with us a piece of that experience. Julia Weldon plays guitar, ukulele and piano on these tracks. Joining her are Drew Morgan on cello, keys, synthesizers, guitar, bass, kantele and percussion; and Matt Brown on drums.

The album opens with “Til The Crying Fades,” a gorgeous and moving song. This one gets right to me, pulling me in, even before Julia’s vocals begin. This is the first song I heard from this release, the song that got me interested. It was released as a single, and there is a video for this song as well. The song was written for the victims of the Pulse shooting, and at the end of the video their names appear. This song does sometimes have me in tears, and yet it really has a positive vibe. “And they say you’re in a better place/But I think your death’s a big mistake/There are flashbacks that we can’t erase/So hold me ‘til the crying fades.”  That’s followed by “Kaleidoscope,” an absolutely wonderful love song that makes me feel good. It has an uplifting sound, and toward the end, when the drumbeat builds steadily, it feels like the song is ready to take on the world. And listening, I feel the same way. “We are the choices we make/We are the choices.”

“Comatose Hope,” the album’s title track, has more of a gentle folk sound at the start. As you might guess, this is a song that emerged as a result of Julia’s coma. “There’s a sadness I can’t say/’ Cause no words could come close/To my close look at dying/My comatose hope.” “Comatose Hope” is strangely soothing, almost as if to say that there is nothing to be afraid of. The song then suddenly deposits us at the beginning again, like it is giving us a look at the beyond, but safely returning us to the present, to our lives, as Julia herself returned. Yes, Julia Weldon is a remarkable songwriter.

“Take Me To The Water” is a beautiful song, with an uplifting feel (the positive sound is due in no small part to the presence of ukulele). Here is a taste of the lyrics: “Love is not an anchor/In the sea/Oh, I am alive/But this deep blue could eat me/Never let me go/Don’t set me free/Take me to the water/And make me clean.” And I really dig that percussion. “Take Me To The Water” is followed by “Everybody Says,” a song about dealing with a painful breakup. “Everybody says/That this is for the best/And I listen with both ears/And I agree with them, I guess/But you’re this heart inside a cage/You’re the burning in my chest/You’re the reason that I stayed/You’re the reason that I left.” “Take It All Back” is one of my favorites. It’s a powerful and excellent song, also about the end of a relationship. “Yeah, I take it all back/’Cause you can’t hold me again, not like that/Not like that.” And I love the strings.

Something about the vocal line of “When You Die” reminds me a bit of Edie Brickell And The New Bohemians. It’s followed by another of my favorite tracks, “Failed To Find,” which begins quietly, almost sweetly on acoustic guitar. Check out these opening lines: “I saw my heart splitting in two/I saw the future when I kissed you/Last night in the calm our lips told the truth/You are the answer that needs no proof.” The song then takes a surprising turn. When it kicks in, we learn just how wrong things have gone:  I’ve cheated and lied/Chose wrong over right/I’ve waited for love on a corner at night/In the dark of a bar/And the strangest of lights/Oh, I have looked, but failed to find.” And yet, this song is ultimately positive. “Because I flirted with death and I came back to life.” The CD then concludes with “You Want It,” a gorgeous song that reminds me of Aimee Mann during the chorus. “You want it/You want it so bad/It’s on the tip of your tongue/And you can taste it/You want it/You want it so close/But still just far enough/You’ve got to chase it.” Jausmė Stonkutė plays kanklės on this track.

CD Track List
  1. Til The Crying Fades
  2. Kaleidoscope
  3. Comatose Hope
  4. Soon II
  5. Take Me To The Water
  6. Everybody Says
  7. Take It All Back
  8. Cursed And Blessed
  9. When You Die
  10. Failed To Find
  11. You Want It 
Comatose Hope was released on July 13, 2017.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Cindy Lee Berryhill at The Federal Bar, 11-5-17 Concert Review

Cindy Lee Berryhill performing "The Adventurist"
The Mimosa Music Series continued today with a performance by Cindy Lee Berryhill, as well as an excellent opening set by Derrick Anderson (yeah, a good double bill). I love starting my Sundays with great music, food, drinks and people. There was plenty of all at today’s performance at The Federal Bar in North Hollywood. Before the show, we ended up pushing two tables together to accommodate our group. All of us, coincidentally, were from Massachusetts, that is until Ronee Blakley kindly joined our table. I ordered the bread basket again, as it was incredibly delicious the last time I was there (for the Paul Kelly concert), and this time I used my drink tickets to get a couple of mimosas. I don’t really care for champagne, but today the mimosas did the trick. Everything was working just right.

Derrick Anderson took the stage at 11:45 a.m., and delivered a fun set, focusing on songs from his new release, A World Of My Own, including “Waiting For You,” “You Don’t Have To Hurt No More,” “Something New,” “Phyllis & Sharon,” “Stop Messin’ About” and “When I Was Your Man.” Derrick plays bass, and he was backed by four musicians, all of whom apparently are part of the Wild Honey Orchestra. Guitarist Rob Bonfiglio sang lead on his “Trouble Again.”  They ended the set with “Spring,” the last song on Derrick’s new CD, but the crowd demanded one more song, and they obliged with a cover of The Beatles’ “She’s A Woman.”

After a twenty-minute break, series host Gary Calamar introduced Cindy Lee Berryhill. Her group for today’s show was similar to that for the show at McCabe’s in April, and included David Schwartz on bass, Robert Lloyd on keys and banjo, Renata Bratt on cello, Joyce Rooks on cello, Danny Frankel on drums, and Paula Luber on vibraphone. She kicked off her set with “Radio Astronomy,” a song from her 1994 release, Garage Orchestra. “That was from an old record,” she said afterward. “And this is from a new record.” She then played “Somebody’s Angel,” one of my favorite songs from her newest album, The Adventurist. There is no keyboard on this song, so Robert Lloyd took the time to read from his book. Later he was asked what he was reading, and it turned out to be a Walt Whitman book. I mentioned in my McCabe’s review the odd habit of the members of this band to read when not needed for a particular song, and this time around it didn’t seem as strange.

After “Somebody’s Angel,” Cindy asked the crowd how the overall sound was. “Everybody here is a musician,” she noted. She followed that with “American Cinematography,” and then “Horsepower,” both from The Adventurist. Actually, the rest of the set (with the exception of “Happy Birthday To You,” obviously) was made up of songs from that album. “This is fun for us because we haven’t played together since April,” Cindy said. “As a band,” she added. She did “I Like Cats/You Like Dogs,” and then Robert Lloyd switched to banjo for “The Adventurist,” a song which also features some nice percussion. Cindy then introduced the band, briefly mentioning the members’ accomplishments. A talented bunch, to be sure.

“An Affair Of The Heart” was beautiful, and Renata Bratt played the melodica during a section of the song before going back to the cello. The band then performed “Happy Birthday To You” for an audience member celebrating her birthday (even though she had to leave early), and the band finished the set with “Gravity Falls.” The show ended at 1:40 p.m., and the house music came on immediately. Apparently, the venue had another event scheduled soon afterward, so there wasn’t time for another song.

Set List
  1. Radio Astronomy
  2. Somebody’s Angel
  3. American Cinematography
  4. Horsepower
  5. I Like Cats/You Like Dogs
  6. The Adventurist
  7. An Affair Of The Heart
  8. Happy Birthday To You
  9. Gravity Falls 
Here are a few photos from the show:

"Radio Astronomy"
"Somebody's Angel"
"An Affair Of The Heart"
The Federal Bar is located at 5303 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood, California.

Popa Chubby: “Two Dogs” (2017) CD Review

Last year Popa Chubby (Ted Horowitz) released a two-disc live album titled Big, Bad And Beautiful Live that featured mostly original material, but with a few covers, including a couple of Rolling Stones songs. In my review of that two-disc set, I mentioned how I wished his cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” had been included. Well, he has a new album coming out in a few weeks, and though it is a studio recording, it includes two bonus live tracks, and, yes, one of those is “Hallelujah.” (The other is another Rolling Stones song.) So I was incredibly excited to pop this disc in. The studio recordings are all original songs, and there are some damn good songs included here. Popa Chubby plays guitar and percussion, as well as drums and bass on certain tracks. Joining him on this album are Sam Bryant on drums, Andy Paladino on bass, Dave Keyes on keyboards, Tipitina Horowitz on trumpet and Andrew Garrison on saxophone.

Popa Chubby kicks off the new album with “It’s Alright,” an energetic rock tune that really grew on me, particularly because of these lines: “I spent my whole life wasting away/I wait for the day when I’ll hear you say it’s okay/Hey, hey, baby, it’s alright/You tell me, hey baby, it’s alright.” Popa Chubby is really tapping into something there, putting a voice to something a lot of people are feeling to some extent. It’s followed by a heavier bluesy number, “Rescue Me.”

But for me, the third track, “Preexisting Conditions,” is when the album starts getting really good. This one made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it, right from the first lines. He begins the song by playing on a familiar line: “I got the rocking pneumonia and the boogie woogie flu.” For a moment we might think we’re in standard territory, but he follows it with this line: “And my knees don’t do what they used to do.” I love it, particularly as I’m waiting for an appointment with an orthopedic doctor after tearing the medial meniscus in my left knee at work. But this song isn’t just about aging, as its title lets you know. “I’m telling you I’m a man on a mission/I’m going to die of preexisting conditions.” The song addresses the fear of losing health insurance and calls out that prick Donald Trump directly at the end, which of course I appreciate. Plus, there is some wonderful work on horns.

“Sam Lay’s Pistol” is a very cool, mean blues tune about drummer Sam Lay. This song begins with just a beat on the hi-hat, and then the vocals come in over it: “If Sam Lay were behind that kit/And the wolf turned around, said shoot that shit/He’d do it/Sam’d do it/And I’d do it too/’Cause I’m meaner than Sam Lay’s pistol.” Oh yes. And then the rest of the band comes in. The wolf mentioned in those lines is Howlin’ Wolf, one of the artists Sam Lay played with. Popa Chubby makes that clear in the line, “And the wolf was howlin’ at a strawberry moon.” The “cha cha cha” ending certainly surprised me. That song is followed by “Two Dogs,” the CD’s title track, a song with a good, prominent beat and some wonderful work on guitar. This is another song that really stood out the first time I listened to this disc. It’s kind of twisted and excellent, and is also a bloody good jam.

As I anxiously await more news from the investigation into Donald Trump and the screwed up 2016 election, lines from “Shakedown” really strike a chord. “There’s going to be a shakedown/Truth is going to be told.” Of course, that’s not what the song is directly about, but I can’t help but think of Trump’s imminent demise when I hear these lines. “You keep talking about fiction/Truth’s gonna burn your soul.” That’s followed by another of my favorites, “Wound Up Getting High,” a thoughtful, mellow tune that really works for me. “I sit down and read the papers/I hang my head and cry/I turn on the TV and watch the news/A thousand people died/Think about getting coffee/I wound up getting high/As time slides by.” There is a pretty instrumental section. I love this song, despite its use of the teardrops/rain cliché (“A thousand teardrops fall like rain/They fall down from the sky”).

The studio album concludes with an instrumental track titled “Chubby’s Boogie,” a fun, rocking little jam with good stuff on keys and a catchy guitar part. That’s followed by the two live bonus tracks. The first is a good cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil,” recorded in France. This track features Andrea Beccaro on drums and Francesco Beccaro on bass. The second (and final track on the CD) is Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” the track I was most excited to hear. It was recorded at The Falcon in Marlboro, New York. Though the date of the concert isn’t given in the liner notes, it was within the last year because Popa Chubby introduces it by saying “This is a song by the late great Leonard Cohen.” The sound isn’t perfect, and you can hear people talking in the background, which is weird and rude. But it’s a good rendition. One thing that makes this version interesting is Popa Chubby’s choice of verses. He begins it, naturally, with the “secret chord” verse, then follows it with the “love is not some kind of victory march” verse. He then does the “You say I took the name in vain” verse, which is often left out these days. That’s followed by the “What’s really going on below” verse. Popa Chubby changes this one slightly, singing the first two lines as “Was a time not long ago/You showed me what was down below” instead of “There was a time you let me know/What’s really going on below.” Popa Chubby adds “Oh yeah, oh yeah” to the end of each chorus. There’s a really nice instrumental section, featuring good work on keys and then guitar. Popa Chubby addresses the audience after that section, asking the folks if they’ve been having a good time. He then sings the “Maybe there’s a god above” verse, and follows that with another instrumental part to end the song. So he left out the “Your faith was strong” verse and the “I did my best” verse. This is interesting, as I’ve seen live recordings of Popa Chubby performing both of those verses (while leaving out others). As far as I know, Leonard Cohen himself never performed all the verses together, as the song changed over time. Anyway, Popa Chubby’s reading of the song is passionate, and is of course one of the disc’s highlights.

CD Track List
  1. It’s Alright
  2. Rescue Me
  3. Preexisting Conditions
  4. Sam Lay’s Pistol
  5. Two Dogs
  6. Dirty Old Blues
  7. Shakedown
  8. Wound Up Getting High
  9. Cayophus Dupree
  10. Me Won’t Back Down
  11. Chubby’s Boogie
  12. Sympathy For The Devil
  13. Hallelujah 
Two Dogs is scheduled to be released on CD in the US on November 27, 2017. Apparently it was released in Europe last week. (Note: the tune “Cayophus Dupree” is listed as “Cayophus Dupree” in the track list on the back of the CD case, but is referred to twice as “Clayophus” in the liner notes.)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Chris Barron: “Angels And One-Armed Jugglers” (2017) CD Review

John Irving is one of my favorite writers (after William Shakespeare and Kurt Vonnegut, of course). Last year I reviewed an album by a band called Owen Meany’s Batting Stance, and it was the band’s name that got me interested. Likewise, it was a song titled “The World Accordion To Garp” that initially attracted me to Angels And One-Armed Jugglers, the new solo album by Spin Doctors lead singer Chris Barron. Plus, that’s a damn good album title (apparently, the album was originally going to be titled If I Stop Laughing, I’ll Cry). (Side note: I can’t believe it’s been twenty-three years since I saw Spin Doctors in concert.) The CD features all original music, written or co-written by Chris Barron, songs with some excellent lyrics. Lines like “Loneliness, it’s not the best party dress” and “There’s a saint in every crowd” and of course “I’m tired of songs about angels/I could use a punch in the face” stand out. Joining him on this release are Andrew Carillo on guitar, Jesse Murphy on bass, Shawn Pelton on drums, Rob Clores on keys, Erik Lawrence on saxophone, Steven Bernstein on trumpet, Jeff Nelson on tuba, Jonathan Dinklage on violin and viola, Anja Wood on cello, and Kevin Bents on accordion. Backing vocals are provided by Lindsay Nicole Chambers, Arne Houda and Erik Roe.

Chris Barron opens the album with its title track, which is one of my favorites. Ah, there is something attractive about songs populated by characters like these. “Angels and one-armed jugglers/Sword swallowers and smugglers/Good old Adelaide, she must be long gone/She once was a looker/And a hell of a hoofer/And we never stayed thirsty for long.” And this one has a wonderful sound, with some nice work on horns. There is a good late-night vibe to this song. Pour yourself a drink, sit back and let it take you on a little journey. “Angels And One-Armed Jugglers” is followed by “April And May,” which has more of a pop sound. “The vodka spreads her fingers and I am like a thumb/I can’t drink myself back to the place where May and April come.”

“Gonna (Need Someone)” is a mellower, more reflective song, an effective combination of folk and pop, and is another of my favorites (though I’m not sure why “Need Someone” is in parentheses in the title). Check out these lines, which begin the song: “On some other sunny day/When it used to be child’s play/You could get up and walk away from yourself/Now that the sun is gone/And the shadows are strange and long/You try and try to be strong, but it’s wrong.” Yeah, there are a lot of excellent lyrics in this batch of songs. These lines from “In A Cold Kind Of Way” always make me smile: “She’s as cold as ice/My friends think she’s nice/She could use a little blush/And of course her brains are mush.” I already mentioned my favorite lines from “Saving Grace” (the “punch in the face” lines), but I also really like these lines: “Well, if home is where the heart lies/And my heart is in your hands.”

The title of “Still A Beautiful World” carries a much-needed message in this completely screwed up time when a hideous, incestuous, mendacious creep sleeps in the White House. And the song is quite good. It begins as a sweet-sounding folk song, then develops into a cool pop song with horns. “It’s still a beautiful world/But we destroyed it long ago/Sha la-la, sha-la la-la la.” That’s followed by “The World Accordion To Garp,” the song that initially drew my interest. And it’s another of the album’s highlights, though the second line, “Boozy Susie on my arm,” reminds me of a different John Irving novel. And, yes, an accordion plays a strong role in this song. There is also a tuba, perhaps thanks to the line “The tuba has been drinking.” Check out these lines: “If you listen for her song/In your memory you can keep it/Even if you get it wrong/She plays it on your heartstrings/Starting just as it gets dark/On the world accordion to Garp.”

“Till The Cows Come Home” is a kind of sweet love tune that becomes a delicious jazzy late-night number. Yes, this is another of my favorites. “No matter where you go/You’ll never be alone/I will love you till the cows come home.” The CD then concludes with “Too Young To Fade,” a song about a friend. “His movie ended before they shot a couple of scenes.” When I come across lines like that, I always think of Ken Kesey’s sage advice to “always stay in your own movie.”

CD Track List
  1. Angels And One-Armed Jugglers
  2. April And May
  3. Darken My Door
  4. Gonna (Need Someone)
  5. In A Cold Kind Of Way
  6. Raining Again
  7. Saving Grace
  8. Still A Beautiful World
  9. The World Accordion To Garp
  10. Till The Cows Come Home
  11. Too Young To Fade 
Angels And One-Armed Jugglers was released on October 20, 2017.