David Baerwald

(Lost Highway) • David Baerwald

I've often purchased a book because of an intriguing title, but I can't remember the last time a CD title made me put my money down. How arresting that idea was, the New Folk Underground. Brilliant.

Especially from a guy like David Baerwald, whose huge 80's success as half of David & David (remember "Boomtown"?) and as a collaborator on Sheryl Crow's smash debut were both chart toppers that came outta nowhere. So it made me wonder what the man had up his sleeve this time.

In the last decade, Baerwald has shown up on many songs and records with major artists. He's also composed soundtracks for major and independent films.

That's a long sleeve the man has, and it's lined with musical and lyrical power and prowess. Is it folk? Hell no, though there's some of that along with every other American style. Soul, rock and roll, pop, bluegrass, R&B, it all shows up. But it never shows up in any pure and typecastable form. The cat is bursting with soul, gets you hanging on his every word in search of his deep cool and his big heart.

To me, Baerwald offers an interesting comparison to Tom Waits. Waits' genius notwithstanding, he seems in contrast to this artist to have beeen hiding behind a facade his whole career, and never betraying his essence, always in character. Moreover, that character has become caricature in more recent years. All that to say that David Baerwald does give this reviewer more of the soul bearing aspect that turns me on, regardless of whom he's singing about.

Our hero is a salty and very complicated character. He's got lots of well documented hard feelings about the whole Tuesday Night Music Club chapter, and about L.A. cops and the government, and ran politically afield of various groups over the years. Turned inside out by the tragic death of friend and mentor Bill Bottrell's seven year old son some years back, he pulled some friends together in L.A. and started to play music that eventually evolved into this beautiful record.

He and his partner now live in Austin, raising a son. This is a truly fascinating American artist, and we highly recommend the recording. • FG

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