CD Review of Here Comes the New Folk Underground by David Baerwald

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Here Comes the New Folk Underground
starstarstarstarno star Label: Umvd Labels
Released: 2002
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It has been 10 years since David Baerwald released the angry, politically charged and fascinating record Triage. Those of you who are unfamiliar with the name may be more familiar with some of his work which includes contributing to the Sheryl Crow smash Tuesday Night Music Club, writing the Golden Globe nominated song from Moulin Rouge, "Come What May," and as half of the duo David and David, which created one of the most distinctive records of the 1980s in 1986's Boomtown.

Baerwald creates lyrical pictures of a darker, earthy and often shady characters in worlds we really don't desire access to, but can't look away from once exposed. This record, more so than his two solo albums and the David and David record, has a new element that is an effective contrast to the majority of his work -- hope. From what I have been able to gather from the Internet and other sources, Baerwald went into the studio to cope with the death of the young son of longtime friend and collaborator, Bill Botrell, and what resulted was a work as complex as the others with some of his usual insight into the darker characters he likes to write about, a bit of humor and even a touch of optimism (did I really just write that word in a review about the work of David Baerwald?), which must be considered potentially tongue-in-cheek given his lyrical content of the past.

The three solo records and the David and David album all have distinctive sounds associated with them. David and David's Boomtown (1986) was a keyboard and studio record where the two of them (David Ricketts was the other David) played every instrument. Bedtime Stories (1990) is a full record oriented a little more toward a fuller rock band sound and not as synthesizer oriented. Triage (1992) is a record that experiments with sound structure utilizing loops, samples and different noises to accent the rather strong lyrical content. This album has more of an organic feel, with an emphasis on the acoustic guitar where elements of country and folk are mixed with horns and strong harmonies. The last several years of other activity have really energized the material here and if you enjoy being challenged by the content of a song, and don't want the garbled razor blade vocals of Tom Waits, then David Baerwald is your man. I hope it is not another 10 years before his next solo album is released.

~R. David Smola