Search - Dan Bern :: Breathe

Dan Bern
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1

In the closing track, Dan Bern sings of standing in "Another Man's Clothes." In the opening "Trudy," it sounds as if those clothes are any of Bob Dylan's that Bern can salvage. With its reedy vocals, wheezy harmonica, and ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Dan Bern
Title: Breathe
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Messenger Records
Original Release Date: 1/1/2006
Re-Release Date: 9/19/2006
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock
Style: Singer-Songwriters
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 632662102527, 0711297478525, 071129747852

In the closing track, Dan Bern sings of standing in "Another Man's Clothes." In the opening "Trudy," it sounds as if those clothes are any of Bob Dylan's that Bern can salvage. With its reedy vocals, wheezy harmonica, and midtempo melody evoking the "My Back Pages"/"Chimes of Freedom" era, that cut sounds more like Dylan than any of the generations of "new Dylans" who have preceded Bern. Yet the rest of the album shows a musical range and strength of songwriting that elevates Bern from mimicry. The buoyant rock of the propulsive "Rain," the insistent pulse underlying the riveting narrative of "Suicide Room," and the majestic build of the epic, eight-minute "Past Belief" all testify that Bern is an artist of considerable command as well as worthy influences. --Don McLeese

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CD Reviews

Thanks, Dan.
Sean | Maryland | 09/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Just got it yesterday, so these are the early returns:

When trying to decide whether to buy a new album, most of us want to know: "What genre or artist that I know does it come close to?" While this may be a flawed way to approach a work of art, where listening to it on its own merits would likely be better, the fact is, we do it. It's how we're wired - to put things in boxes, so to speak. So I write this for those out there who are trying to decide whether to spend their money on this work. If you like Tom Petty; if you like Warren Zevon; if you like Jackson Browne (early); if you like John Hiatt; if you like Traveling Wilbury's; you may very well like this - a lot. None of this album is just like any of these other artists, but to me, it sits in similar vein. I think Dan surpasses these other artists in many ways. His lyrics are better than most of them, for example, in terms of their originality and sincerity. As a lyricist, I think of him as often clever and disarming like Costello, but more heartfelt and less likely to seem contrived - perhaps more in line with Cohen , or at times, Guthrie.

Lots of folks dismiss Dan as a Dylan wanna-be. It's a superficially understandable sentiment. Dan can sound like him, and readily borrows some of Dylan's forms in some of his songs. But Dylan, himself, did not make up many of these forms either, but indeed borrowed and synthesized from his predecessors, just like any artist. At any rate, Dylan is in there as an obvious influence, but only a small fraction of Dan's songs could sit on a Dylan album without standing out as obviously unique to any discerning listener. Even when he's taken a "Dylan" form (or more precisely a particular form we now associate with Dylan) verbatim, Dan's lyrics, themes, sentiments, and own performing style stamp the song as Dan's, and not as Dan "impersonating" Dylan.

Funny thing is, while on early albums I liked many of Dan's most Dylanesque efforts, on this latest album, the only two songs that fall into this category to my ear - "Trudy" and "Another Man's Clothes" - are my least favorites so far (even at that, they are not bad). But the other eight are so strong, and so good, that I heartily recommend the album to everyone.

As I mentioned, Dan's music has always had tinges of Dylan in it. Some might call Dylan a heavy influence of Dan's. I've always thought: "It'd be pretty hard to pick a much better influence. One could do far worse than to evoke Dylan in terms of style and form of certain songs." That said, "Trudy" is just a little too evocative of early Dylan for me, to the point that it distracts me from even getting a sense of whether the song is good in it's own right. It may be.

This is very solid song. Too me it's like revisiting "Jerusalem," (the first Dan song I ever heard, and the moment I became a fan), at least in terms of sharing the "I am the Messiah" theme. The hook is catchy, not to mention good advice: "Just stop what you're doing, and breathe."

Feel Like A Man:
Great rolling rhythm, and an interesting theme. "I'm lost crazy lonesome - a plane with no place to land - and I do what I have to do to make me feel like a man"

Remember Me:
This is just a beautiful song, period. It also has the wonderful feature of expressing sentiments of love in original (non-trite) ways ("if I's a tree - I'd shake whenever you walked under - cover you with leaves til I had none"). It also flows musically with what sound to my ear like strains of early reggae crooning.

Suicide Room:
Another strong tune with a good rolling beat this time dealing with the struggle to get through this life without succumbing to despair and the hope to be stronger than the challenges we meet. "figured if I can't beat this world, I can beat this room."

Tongue Tied:
Whoa! This is my favorite right now. Fantastic melody; fantastic singing - eww hoooo ooooo. This one evokes Beatles for me. Damn, it's good! Sweet guitar licks - brrrring.

Good base line. Reminds me of Graham Parker / Everly Brothers / Nick Lowe. Kind of poppy, sweet and catchy. "Sittin on the Dock of the Bay" type of sentiment: "I'm just gonna watch the rain today."

Visit In My Dream:
This is a really haunting song (pardon the pun). We all have someone who visits our dreams like this. It's abstract/ambiguous enough that as listeners we can easily and rewardingly project into it.

Past Belief:
One of the strongest songs on the album - nice layering of a lot of instruments to create a rich wall of sound, so to speak. Talkin to God, looking for a sign. "I'm willing to go on faith - but I'm past belief." Whew.

Another Man's Clothes:
Better than many other artist's best, but in my opinion that's faint praise. It strikes me as too wilfully and self-consciously melancholic. It's got interesting aspects, but Dan's got so many better songs, in my opinion. Any of the songs on the Breathe Easy EP, for example, are better. I particularly like Joe Christ, which might at first blush seem a novelty song, but upon further listening has interesting themes and really catchy little chorus - deedly dee dee dee.

All in all, this is an excellent album. My criticisms are minor. Like many fans, I suppose, I'd have liked to be in the producer's chair to play the editor's role. Dan is fantastic musician, and with this album shows he continues to reward his fans with some of the best music being made today."
Talkin' Dan Bern Breathe
duckyshmoltz | Portland, OR | 01/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I guess a lot of people compare Dan to Bob because of the superficial aspects of his songs: the traditional folk structure, the voice. Heck, Dan even wrote a song about it, "Talkin' Woody, Bob, Bruce & Dan Blues". After that, though, you've got a songwriter who is completely unique. I love his early stuff, especially the hilarious 50 Eggs. I hope Ani Difranco will produce another of his albums someday. When I started listening to New American Language, I felt that maybe he was growing up, getting more somber. In fact, he was taking his sense of humor and putting it to good use. On his recent EPs, you get the feeling that he has gotten closer to his own voice. "Jail" is as funny as anything on 50 Eggs, but with more depth.

Breathe is a great album. It sounds almost hokey to say this, but I feel like I'm growing alongside Dan, feeling the same things, wondering about the country and the future along a parallel line. The title track is especially poignant. It's easy to tell someone to "breathe, take it easy", but Dan finds a way to make it seem natural and real. His songs don't blare out their messages, they sneak up beside you. They're more like friends than advertisements.

There's a lot of good music being made today. This is among the most personally rewarding."
'Breathe' by Dan Bern
Paul Addems | Cornwall, UK | 01/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is probably Dan's most smoothly produced album, but none the worse for that, as he continues to amaze with his consistently high standard of songwriting. If you like Dan Bern you'll like this album. If you have never heard of him this will be a good place to start, followed by 'New American Language' and 'Smartie Mine' and then........."