In his earliest days, it was hard to tell if Steve Forbert was a country boy wrapped in the city, or a city boy mistakenly born in the country. His songs had a streetwise swagger, but also the down-home innocence of someone just slightly out of his element. Yet, he was always right at home making music that was completely his.Label: 429
[RATING: 3 ]
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In his earliest days, it was hard to tell if Steve Forbert was a country boy wrapped in the city, or a city boy mistakenly born in the country. His songs had a streetwise swagger, but also the down-home innocence of someone just slightly out of his element. Yet, he was always right at home making music that was completely his.
Hailed as the “new Bob Dylan” after his first release, Forbert never tried to make good on that claim, but never wavered in his approach or originality, shifting focus as his interests changed. Strange Names & New Sensations is no different. Forbert no longer is the country boy in New York City, instead returning closer to his roots in Nashville, but what is different is the content of the album. Forbert’s always inquisitive eye and insightful views remain, yet here he embraces his mortality and the fact that he’s getting older. It’s something every musician knows is inevitable, but will rarely admit. Just look at Keith Richards. Forbert accepts his near-mid-50s age, and puts it to good use. “Middle age is different,” he sings immediately on the opening line of the album’s opening track. He adds, “It’s a good thing youth is wasted on the young.” Perhaps fittingly, the track is an easy-rocker, with light horns and simple backbeat that’s certainly less adventurous than earlier compositions, but accurately reflects his growing maturity as a performer and songwriter.
Forbert’s voice does show his age, if only slightly, with occasional cracks and strains. This proves, however, to be an enduring quality, and nothing Forbert let’s get in his way, whether singing about all the strange place names in New Jersey, writer Spaulding Gray or estimating to have only 30 more years to live. While there are a few upbeat moments scattered across the album, Forbert overall takes an easy-going, laidback approach that merges country, folk and rock. Is he easing into middle age, or just finding a new means of expression? Whatever the case, it certainly works well here.