Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Record of the Month

I figured I'd do a monthly 'what I'm listening to' kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it's my blog! So there!

David Broza collaborates on Townes Van Sandt's final set of lyrics, what could possibly go wrong, right? Well, Night Dawn - the Unpublished Poetry of Townes Van Sandt pretty much answers that question.

Broza is an incredible Israeli guitarist/singer and I've been a fan for two decades. I even made him one of my Classic records of the month a little while back.

Van Sandt was an outstanding songwriter - some of his stuff you might know, mostly through other artists ("Poncho & Lefty" - anyone? anyone??), though he did do recordings himself.

Van Sandt left behind a number of unfinished songs when he died. Lyrics, actually. Poems. Through the grace of Van Sandt's widow, Broza was allowed to compose the music for these and perform them. And it's been forever since Broza has put out an English sung album. Mostly they are in Hebrew or Spanish (both of which I love, but......).

The unfortunate thing is, I don't think it is Towne's lyrics that are the problem. I think it is Broza's music, or at least his arrangements.

I have to use "Holes in my Sole" as the example. It being the longest piece on the disk, it is arguably the centerpiece. Broza's guitar work is exemplary. The first minute of music is incredible and then for the next three and a half the music and lyrics go in a blues mode, which I like very much. Then it all falls apart. For the next two plus minutes, it goes into a Johnny Cash like railroad song. WTF? I still play the song, but I hit the skip button at the 4:18 mark or so.

Badly arranged backing vocals ("Night Dawn" - which makes it sound like bad Pips now and again) don't help matters.

There are no denying Broza's guitar skills ("Carolina", "The Deer", "Holes in my Sole", "Too Old to Die Young"), he is incredible, but he has got to do better in the arrangement category.

Night Dawn isn't without some rays of hope. I do like "Harms Swift Way" and "Soul to Soul", as they are the stand-out cuts here.

It pains to me say that this isn't better, but it isn't.

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