Review: Not Quite Shattered; Eddie Berman’s Broken English Defies Translation

Eddie Berman/Broken English/Nettwerk
Three out of Five Stars

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Eddie Berman’s new album, Broken English, finds the singer’s gruff vocals sharing songs flush with philosophical intent. The music is wholly of a darker demeanor, ominous at times but compelling regardless. The aptly titled “Stay Dark” and the banjo-strummed ramble “Song of Joy” offer ideal examples, especially given the dense arrangements that underscore the somber-sounding prophetic pronouncements.

The fact that Berman claims to have taken inspiration from various Celtic, Hindu, and Buddhist philosophies seems to suggest that there’s a deeper meaning to be uncovered within these melodies. On a selection such as “Time Waits for No Man,” the message is especially apparent, as Berman’s furrowed attitude combines with the song’s shimmering arrangements to impart a particularly emphatic impression. “Skin of the Earth,” “Leviathan” and “The Wheel” recall early Van Morrison circa the album Moondance, making them an alluring addition to the ominous overtones that characterize the album overall. “Dust and Clay” shares a similarly soulful delivery, while bringing a particularly plaintive sound to the proceedings. 

Berman’s gravitas may be off-putting to some, but then again, it’s clear that his conviction offers no concession to any need for easy accessibility. It provides a means of taking listeners deep into an emotional divide, one that allows Berman to peel away layers of artifice and pretense in an effort to ply the full depth of care and concern. At times, it becomes something of a soulful sojourn, as evidenced by the piercing “Cherokee Rose” and the sultry sway that guides “Water in the Barrel” as well.  

Given repeated listens, Broken English eventually takes hold and Berman’s dense melodies begin to resonate. At that point, the music becomes riveting and reassuring, enabling Broken English to find a clear connection. An auspicious effort from first to last, it’s sobering in its circumspect.

Photo courtesy Prospect PR

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