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David Bromberg

In a perfect world, David Bromberg's new recording (his first in 17 years), would come with a digital code that would not allow it to play until his enclosed song-by-song narrative had been read. These notes, eloquent and heartfelt, mirror this exquisite recording of non-overdubbed acoustic guitar and voice. They also offer insights into the place where these tunes come from, as well as their place in traditional folk and blues history. Glimpses into Bromberg's colorful past are a bonus.

Through 16 tunes, Bromberg accentuates his strengths, mixing blues, traditional folk and melding the two. He fingerpicks, plays some slide, shouts a little, and sings sweetly and softly when it best serves the tune. Only one song, the title track, is his, as he covers Robert Johnson, the Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Willie McTell and Bob Dylan. When all is said and done, he gets more out of his signature Martin than one would think possible for a guy who's long given up recording and touring to study the making of fine violins.

With cover art that replicates his first LP and a dedication to longtime bandmate Dick Fegy, Bromberg's career appears to have come full circle. Ironically, the liner notes state, "This is the first record I've made where I wasn't trying to impress anybody at any point." Mercy, is that all it takes?

More by Jim Lipson

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