Eddie Berman/Bad English/Network
Three out of five stars

Eddie Berman’s new album, Bad English, finds the singer’s gruff voice sharing songs with philosophical intent. The music is entirely of a darker demeanor, disturbing at times but compelling nonetheless. The aptly titled track “Stay Dark” and the banjo-paced rambling “Song of Joy” provide ideal examples, especially given the dense arrangements that underscore dark-sounding prophetic statements.

The fact that Berman claims to have drawn inspiration from various Celtic, Hindu and Buddhist philosophies seems to suggest that there is a deeper meaning to be discovered in these melodies. On a selection like “Time Waits for No Man,” the message is particularly apparent, as Berman’s furrowed demeanor combines with the song’s shimmering arrangements to sound particularly emphatic. “Skin of the Earth”, “Leviathan” and “The Wheel” recall Van Morrison’s debut towards the album Moon Dance, making it a seductive addition to the ominous overtones that characterize the entire album. “Dust and Clay” shares an equally moving delivery, while bringing a particularly plaintive sound to the proceedings.

Berman’s gravity may be off-putting to some, but again, it’s clear that his conviction offers no concessions to any need for easy accessibility. It provides a way to take listeners to the depths of an emotional divide, a divide that allows Berman to remove layers of artifice and pretense in an effort to unfold the full depth of attention and worry. At times, it becomes something of an emotional sojourn, as evidenced by the “Cherokee Rose” piercing and sultry swaying that also guides “Water in the Barrel.”

Based on repeated listening, Bad English eventually take hold and Berman’s dense melodies begin to resonate. At this point, the music becomes captivating and reassuring, allowing Bad English to find a clear connection. An auspicious effort from first to last, it is sobering in its circumspection.

Photo courtesy of Prospect PR

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