The Work Group
2100 Colorado Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Henry Koretzky
The buzz precedes Dan Bern wherever he goes. That's to be expected when you're the latest highly touted phenom on the '90s folk scene. So it's actually a relief to just sit down with his eponymous debut CD and allow the music to stand for itself.
And stand it does, with a defiant manner and a uniquely skewed perspective. Bern definitely has the guts to confront his musical influences directly. The opening track, "Jerusalem," is delivered in an exaggerated Dylanesque twang, full of outrageous humor and free-associating parody. It's irony with a capital I.
As the recording plays out, various aspects of Bern's musical persona are revealed. There's the love-song-with-an-edge challenge of "I'm Not the Guy" and the rocking energy of "Go to Sleep." He's also remarkably focused on the icons of popular culture, musing playfully on the imaginary fates of Henry Miller and Marilyn Monroe in "Marilyn" as well as a pop procession of figures running the gamut from Elvis Presley to Pete Rose on the anthemic "Too Late to Die Young."
While touches of harmonica and organ remind the listener of some of the trailblazers on the particular career path which Bern has chosen, there's no question that he has the confidence and talent to make his own way. The eleven songs on DAN BERN are a representative showcase for his humor, his outrage, and his bite.
There's no telling what Bern will end up accomplishing musically down the road. But there's more than enough of a gift displayed here to make it worth climbing aboard the Bern express on the ground floor.
Edited by Kerry Dexter