This is Norman's third CD. It follows the re-release of the 1988 recordings Romantic Nights On the Upper West Side and To The Core. Norman is a very professional singer-songwriter, very much in the vein of the New York school whose unofficial master is Jack Hardy. It is no wonder that his songs have appeared in the much appreciated issues of Fast Folk CD magazine in the past. He was also editor of the magazine "Sing Out!." His knowledge of folk music is evident from his recordings.
His voice is the monotonous kind, somewhere between Lou Reed and James McMurtry. It is a communicative voice, but it is hard to listen to the whole CD in one sitting. I was relieved when I heard a woman's voice on track 10 (It's a duet with the lovely vocals of Linda LoPresti). I think he should add more backing female vocals in the future. His music is accompanied by a full acoustic band of 6 or more instruments. So, for the most part, this is not a very intimate CD. Although it is still more intimate than his Romantic Nights CD, where the songs are more rock than the folk recording we have here. There are more drums and percussions than what you find these days on folk CD's.
His lyrics are very well written, and this is surely due in part to learning his lessons well from the literate Jack Hardy, and reading loads of poetry. Sometimes they are a bit too intellectual for popular music, but in most cases they work well. In Love or Lust, an energetic song and one of the best ones on the CD he sings:
Later in the same song we find clever lines like "One of these days the fools are going to rule" (Isn't this happening now? Doesn't it happen all the time?), and in other songs lines like "Only five days to pitchers and catchers," "And the soil, it turned to sand, and the corn could not grow, see how it dies, row after row," and many other unforgettable lines you will want to sing along. Each one of the songs here has at least two or three sentences that will, at the same time, make you sing and think about the meaning of living and the world. I think that this is what great songwriting is about.
I definitely urge anyone interested in singer-songwriters to give this man a listen, but even more I recommend any singer or band looking for great songs to dig into the songs of this great songwriter. There may be more than one hit in these songs, and many songs that will bring out the best in a great singer. This is my first encounter with Norman's music and I am sure I will be listening to his CD's a lot and for along time. Thanks for the music.
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