P.O. Box 284
Newton, NJ 07860
By Karen Robinson
"Mona Lisa Cafe" is the latest release by Cliff Eberhardt, a unique folk artist in a genre full of individuality. The songs encourage you to listen again for a new connection or fresh interpretation. A perfect coffee shop collection for the mind. A klatsch of songs with eclectic instrumental support makes this a first-rate conversation to eavesdrop on.
The music and instrumentation are a fine blend of arrangements. The first kernel of wisdom is delivered in a straightforward Celtic blast, "Life Is Hard." With that little espresso, he takes us to Paris in "Mona Lisa Waits" to find an Italian cappacina who doesn't love him. The hard life and spurned love lead him to "Voodoo Morning," an addictive bluesy swing tune about the revelation of the morning after. The music is strong and mystical, with a hint of whiskey-in-his-coffee vocals showing tongue- in-cheek despair. It's a blend that makes "Voodoo Morning" one of the finer cuts on this CD.
Moving back to romance, he covers Mark Knopfler's "Romeo and Juliet," with a gypsy feel provided by a bouzouki, and accompanied by the backing vocals of Patty Larkin. Unlike Romeo, "Brave Little Grey" left town to follow the music. "Leap of Faith" analyzes love and the chasm of vulnerability we jump into. You can just feel the mocha in "Caretaker," a ballad of a man who freely burdens himself with the care of a woman who needs him. The harmonizing with Rory Block is captivating. In "Everything Is Almost Gone," the Celtic slant is back, another espresso on the view of life's passage and making the best of it while you've got it. Japan's musical influence is apparent on "Why Do Lovers Have to Say Goodbye," a soft ballad of a losing attempt at love. Now that love is gone, "Trouble for Life" finds him begging for another chance in a volatile relationship. Moving on, "She Loved He" is another ballad, but this time of a love lost because they never tried to find it. Tasty, but could use a bit more sugar. Time is passing and the CD closes when a swinging Cliff delivers the goods on "Is It Wrong to Feel So Good?" featuring an older man getting a second shot at happiness who is questioning his luck.
Cliff Eberhardt possesses a strength in songwriting and musical artistry in an industry that sadly lacks his type of talent. This CD is well worth the trip to the coffeeshop to interpret it with the rest of the klatsch. A rainy day gives you a different feel, a cold day another. A respected songman who can change your perceptions with the weather, he invites another listen. "Mona Lisa Cafe" delivers.
Edited by Henry Koretzky