Monday, October 15, 2007

First impressions of ... Cliff Eberhardt's 'The High Above and the Down Below'

In honor of Cliff Eberhardt's show tomorrow night at Amazing Grace in Canal Park (7:30 p.m., Kim Curtis-Monson of the Fish Heads opens), I thought I'd bump the singer/songwriter's new album -- his fourth for Red House Records, seventh overall -- up the CD-review queue and give you a "sneak peek."

1. "The High Above and the Down Below" (listen here)
A slice of Eberhardt's liner notes for the album: "This is the recording that I always wanted to make. It is my wish that you enjoy it half as much as I enjoyed making it."

I do.

While I was led to believe that Eberhardt is the second coming of Randy Newman -- he's not (not talent-wise, but vocal-wise) -- his after-midnight blues vibe is definitely something you wouldn't want to take lightly.

2. "Missing You"
Even better is this slightly vulnerable slow burner, which seems tailor-made for the most isolating of late-autumn evenings. (Pack your slivovitz!)

3. "It's Home Everywhere I Go"
Like Bob Seger in his 1976 prime, I could see myself driving a rig* cross-country and keeping this smoke-filled gem on repeat.

4. "The Next Big Thing"
(listen here)
On the other hand, this one's more along the lines of "Face the Promise" -- decent enough, but possesses somewhat of a getting-late-in-the-ballgame quality.

5. "The Right Words"
Ah, yes, here's where all those Randy Newman comparisons come into the picture: This here singer/songwriter sure knows how to get the most out of his players. (According to Eberhardt's online bio, "High Above" was recorded in Minneapolis with three noted jazz men.)

6. "After the Rain Falls"
Ed Ved in 20 more years? Perhaps.

(p.s. This track features conga playing by Wild Sound's Matthew Zimmerman ... any relation to Bobby Dylan?)

7. "Assembly Line"
Fact: Eberhardt likes the night, and he likes it real late. (It seems that at least half of his lyrics were penned well beyond the midnight hour.)

8. "Dug Your Own Grave"
This one's kinda funny, kinda tragic ... you know how that goes.

9. "Let This Whole Thing Burn"
If The Boss fronted Santana's band before Carlos really started to suck, the world could've had tracks like this instead of the craptastic, all-the-way-to-No. 1 collaborations we ended up with.

Listen, I don't care if Santana deserved a blockbuster like "Supernatural" ... because that was so not what the world needed.

10. "New is What's Come Over You"
A sleeper (with a decidedly funny title) before ...

11. "I'm All Right"
(listen here)
A midtempo gem that, I must say, is probably the first one I would play for someone who's never heard Eberhardt before -- it is quite approachable.

12. "Goodbye Again"
Enjoyable enough, but a little too anticlimactic to do the songs before it any justice.

*Fully furnished, of course.

No comments: