Chuck Brodsky has always been one of my favorite singer-songwriters. His songs provide a message, without being preachy; they tell good stories without being boring. His albums are consistent endeavors---there are no filler songs included. On his latest album, Color Came One Day, he hires a new producer J.P. Cormier, who also serves as his new multi-instrumentalist backing band. Despite the potential this change could have on Brodsky's sound, I am pleased to report that, in general, the same musical and lyrical formula that has engaged me in the past is still working.
One of Brodsky's talents has been to tell a controversial story without taking sides. A good example is The Come Heres & The Been Heres, which explores the different lifestyles of the residents of a once rural town now faced with the influx of suburbanites. Brodsky just lays the canvas and paints vignettes of situations that show the growing conflict. Although he pokes fun at both groups, he doesn't resolve those tensions in the song---the listener is left to consider the complexities of the situation themselves. On Color Came One Day, however, Brodsky becomes much more partisan.
Like The Come Heres & The Been Heres" Brodsky explores the issues of the growing suburbs in two new songs: Trees Falling" and "Forest Hills Sub. Unlike The Come Heres & The Been Heres, however, it is no mystery which side Brodsky is on. In Trees Falling, Brodsky tells the story of development out of control:
Dangerous Times is the strongest and most urgent track on the album. Sending shivers up your spine, with the imperative in his guitar strumming, Brodsky lays waste to the current administration's war on terror in 4 minutes and 45 seconds. This song also appears on Anti-Theft Device, Waterbug Records' politically oriented CD to get out the folkie vote this November.
Other songs are much more personal. G-ddamned Blessed Road is about travels and deciding life's path, possibly based on Brodsky's life. The closing track is Al's Ashes & Me, Brodsky's song about his travels with folksinger Al Grierson's ashes.
One of Brodsky's greatest strengths is his ability to tell a detailed story in as few words as possible. Of the 12 songs on this album, four of them are longer than 6 minutes. Coincidently, they are also my least favorite songs. Make no mistake, however — I'll take a 7-minute Chuck Brodsky song to nearly anything in the Top 40 these days. Brodsky is truly a national treasure and deserves a greater following. Chuck Brodsky fans will find Color Came One Day to be a respectable follow-up on his previous work.
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