Stories With a Point of View
Musings | Illinois United States | 01/08/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Say this for David Baerwald: he's a survivor. Over 15 years after his first impression on the charts (with the Top 40 hit "Welcome to the Boomtown" as part of David + David), he's still plugging away, either on his own or in collaboration with others (such as Sheryl Crow on "Tuesday Night Music Club").This is his first solo album, recorded after a breakup with David Ricketts. (It's thought their partnership came to grief after Ricketts' then-girlfriend Toni Childs, who had been working on her song "Where's the Ocean" for a year and still had just the title, got ticked off after Baerwald finally shouted from another room, "Take a right on Sunset.") Produced by Larry Klein (the former husband of Joni Mitchell, who provides backing vocals on "Liberty Lies"), it's a slice of Americana from a confused era: the `80s were over, and many people were a little confused as where we were going. Baerwald gets down in the trenches, with stories either of despair ("All for You," "Hello Mary") or or hope ("The Best Inside You").My favorites are those where Baerwald lets his skewed sense of wordplay take hold, much as Springsteen did in his early LPs. These include "Dance" ("Everybody was nervous/We were serving the dervish/We were feeling observed absurd/And paranoid") and "Liberty Lies" ("It's like I'm walking through Rome/Tenements all torn apart/Instead of Nero we got Madonna/She's fiddling with herself") - it shows a sense of adventure rarely heard in rock of that era. (You don't suppose Madonna decided to pilfer the title of this album for her own out of spite? Nah.)I don't have any other Baerwald albums, but I'm happy this one is on my shelf, and it gets played a few times a year - a claim I can't make with many of my other CDs."
This Should Not Be A Denizen of the "Shame It's Out-of-Print
J. Merritt | 07/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If I can convince even one person to track down "Bedtime Stories," I'll feel good. It's a no-good, rotten shame that the album is out of print, but you'll have a fair shot of finding it on eBay or at your local record & tape trader. This guy's a hell of a songwriter, to which this album and the subsequent "Triage" bore considerable testament. If you're a fan of folk-tinged American rock from the Springsteen/Petty school, this should be right up your alley.
Baerwald is more of a pessimist than TP or the Boss; like Mellencamp, he's less a believer in the American Dream, and very upset by its disintegration. Mellencamp believes it can be rebuilt; Petty is apt to find good-time alternatives; Springsteen has grown heavy on lament. Baerwald, on the other hand, gets angry, and walks his songs right into the street to observe the decay and report back. It's not a very encouraging trip to the front lines, but it makes for great music with some meat in it. That's not to say that he has no sense of humor or vision for the brighter side: "Dance" is a rollickingly sardonic take on paranoia, while "Good Times" is a more melodically upbeat ode to nostalgia. Much of the album, though, focuses on those things that we as individuals ("Hello Mary," "The Best Inside You") and as a country ("Liberty Lies," "Sirens in the City," "Stranger") have let slip away. Much to our discredit.
Like his colleagues, Baerwald can write a hook, so you can tap your feet while you listen to the testimony in his case against the system. Just don't forget the central message: While we fiddle, Rome burns, and very few are innocent in this fire."