A review written for The Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Yoder's voice and some of his songs on Best Sunday Heart reminded me of Dean Friedman and of Stephen Bishop. His way with music has many hints of Greg Greenway and Pierce Pettis (who seems to have become a big influence for young singer/songwriters). A great guitarist, Yoder starts this CD with a wonderful guitar solo Stevens Avenue N, a guitar playing that enriches all of his music but this CD needs to be listened to a lot before it will grow on the listener. This is Yoder's first CD, after two previously produced cassettes most likely sold at his shows. He is 31 years old and born in Virginia, now living and performing in Pittsburgh. He is also a teacher and plays guitar, mandolin, bass and saxophone.
In this instantaneous world, Yoder's music asks for a lot of attention. It took eight listenings to this CD before I really started to enjoy it whereas normally it only takes me two listens. Best Sunday Heart takes a little more time and the listener will probably need to sit and read the lyrics along with listening to it in order to understand this highly literate CD.
Yoder seems to be haunted by magic, dreams telling him everything is going to be okay, voices of love, fears of ghosts and loneliness. In "Three Times Tonight," Yoder seems to be telling himself he is not lonely but the song only shows just how lonely he is:
|and I am not alone when you are anywhere |
then we're together and it's the only place to be
and I am not alone when you are anywhere
That stanza is sung four times in a row so to give an even a stronger feeling of a prayer for a love not returned. Again, in Here Of all Places:
|Walk a city sidewalk, |
cross a city crosswalk
swim against the current of the people
as they hurry off to work or school or family,
perfectly distracted, still there's no such things as strangers
here of all places.
This is a solid CD. However, although I think all of the songs are well done, it's a hard one to listen to all in one sitting. There are many moods presented from quiet ballads, to more rhythmic and rocking tunes. But try as I may, the album was too eclectic for my taste and the song did not segue easily for my mood. While this happens also with veteran singer/songwriters with more experience than Yoder, there tends to be more of a cohesiveness to the types of songs and themes for each individual CD. Yoder needs to learn the art of picking the right music for his album because while the songs were good, the album did not fit together well.
If you are willing to get past this obstacle, there are many gems and strong tunes on this album, like Gingko Leaves, or the more rocking, Angry To The World, in which Yoder sings:
|For what it's worth, and I'm not sure |
A cup of earth traded for snake-oil cure
A dearth of love, a lust for more
like we're angry at the world.
This is the kind of CD that if sent to a record company would be dismissed at once, because no one has time to truly listen. But, this may be the music we need most: profound and sincere.
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Edited by Rona Edwards