Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Eric Sommer: “Brooklyn Bolero” (2016) CD Review

Brooklyn Bolero, last year’s release from guitarist, singer and songwriter Eric Sommer, is an unusual album dipping into various styles of music, like blues, folk and rock, with a sense of fun about it. The band for this album is Eric Sommer on guitar, vocals and harmonica; Jim Oakley on percussion and backing vocals; and Zach Smith on bass and backing vocals.  This album features all original material, written by Eric Sommer.

He kicks off the album with “Red Dress,” and that blues guitar sounds so good right from the start. The rhythm is a steady thumping, and the vocals sound almost like they’re delivered by folks at a party shouting in the direction of a microphone. So loose, so cool. It’s kind of a goofy song, and I love it. The lyrics are fairly simple, repeating “Honey, put that red dress, that red dress on.” And then it becomes like the Dr. Seuss of blues songs: “Red dress, blue dress/Red dress, green.” Yup, this is a whole lot of fun. The band kind of keeps that up with a back porch blues song that will appeal to children, “Cereal Song,” its opening lines being “I got my cereal in the bowl/With lots of milk and it’s nice and cold.” And further lines mention various sugar cereals: “Count Chocula can be scary/But I just love my Franken Berry.” Yeah, it’s silly, but I dig the harmonica and the rhythm. Did breakfast cereals ever sound like such a party? I wish I had this much energy in the morning.

Then “Best Foot Forward” is a mellower tune with a positive, optimistic feel. Its opening lines are: “Small motel/Large suitcase/A new road out/From the same old place/Open the door/Kick out the past/The sun is shining/And a new die is cast.” The song has a pleasant, relaxed feel, but is encouraging. And don’t we all need that these days?  Eric Sommer switches gears again with “Doin’ Wrong,” which has more of a rock and roll sound. Check out these lines: “I got a serious job in a room full of clowns/The sun came out and my tires were flat/I ended up living in a laundromat/Well, tell me what I’m doing wrong/This can’t be going on/You tell me that you love me, and that sounds good/I told everybody in the neighborhood.” The chorus is catchy, and I was singing along with it the second time I listened to this disc.

“Cover My Soul” is more in the folk vein, but with a nice rhythm. What I really like about this track is Eric's work on guitar. There is also a cool section where the bass gets swinging. “What A Day I Had” also has something of a folk feel. “I took my hand, covered my eyes.” Ah, that’s what I want to do every time I see photos or footage of that creep currently pretending to be president. And a song with a title like “Death Ray Cataclysm” must have a positive, peppy sound, right? Indeed, it does. “Carnival atmosphere where you stand/Black and white movie that got out of hand.” The CD then concludes with “Hold Your Hand,” a bluesy, energetic rocking number to get you off your seat.  

CD Track List
  1. Red Dress
  2. Cereal Song
  3. Best Foot Forward
  4. Doin’ Wrong
  5. Cover My Soul
  6. What A Day I Had
  7. Death Ray Cataclysm
  8. Hold Your Hand
Brooklyn Bolero was released on September 15, 2016.

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