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Chuck Brodsky - Color Came One Day

Color Came One Day

Chuck Brodsky Records (CB 030)

Waterbug Records
P. O. Box 12736
Portland OR, 97212

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
By David Schultz

Chuck Brodsky has always been one of my favorite singer-songwriters. His songs provide a message, without being preachy; they tell good stories without being boring. His albums are consistent endeavors---there are no filler songs included. On his latest album, Color Came One Day, he hires a new producer J.P. Cormier, who also serves as his new multi-instrumentalist backing band. Despite the potential this change could have on Brodsky's sound, I am pleased to report that, in general, the same musical and lyrical formula that has engaged me in the past is still working.

One of Brodsky's talents has been to tell a controversial story without taking sides. A good example is The Come Heres & The Been Heres, which explores the different lifestyles of the residents of a once rural town now faced with the influx of suburbanites. Brodsky just lays the canvas and paints vignettes of situations that show the growing conflict. Although he pokes fun at both groups, he doesn't resolve those tensions in the song---the listener is left to consider the complexities of the situation themselves. On Color Came One Day, however, Brodsky becomes much more partisan.

Like The Come Heres & The Been Heres" Brodsky explores the issues of the growing suburbs in two new songs: Trees Falling" and "Forest Hills Sub. Unlike The Come Heres & The Been Heres, however, it is no mystery which side Brodsky is on. In Trees Falling, Brodsky tells the story of development out of control:
See where they're putting in a Wal-Mart
See how they level the field
The community banded against it
But there was a backroom deal
Tree one day begin falling
Bulldozers tear up the grass
Just down the road from the superstore
Shopkeepers are boarding up glass.

Dangerous Times is the strongest and most urgent track on the album. Sending shivers up your spine, with the imperative in his guitar strumming, Brodsky lays waste to the current administration's war on terror in 4 minutes and 45 seconds. This song also appears on Anti-Theft Device, Waterbug Records' politically oriented CD to get out the folkie vote this November.

There's terror in our midst
All over the TV
It's what behind the words
That scares the daylights out of me
The twisting of the facts
The stretching of the truth
The terrorists among us
They manipulate the news
So let us all agree
Let us not dissent
Let us not ask questions such as
Where our freedoms went.

Other songs are much more personal. G-ddamned Blessed Road is about travels and deciding life's path, possibly based on Brodsky's life. The closing track is Al's Ashes & Me, Brodsky's song about his travels with folksinger Al Grierson's ashes.

One of Brodsky's greatest strengths is his ability to tell a detailed story in as few words as possible. Of the 12 songs on this album, four of them are longer than 6 minutes. Coincidently, they are also my least favorite songs. Make no mistake, however — I'll take a 7-minute Chuck Brodsky song to nearly anything in the Top 40 these days. Brodsky is truly a national treasure and deserves a greater following. Chuck Brodsky fans will find Color Came One Day to be a respectable follow-up on his previous work.

Track Listing:

  • The 9:30 Pint
  • The Ballad of Stan Rogers & Leo Kennedy
  • Seven Miles Upwind
  • G-ddamned Blessed Road
  • Miracle in the Hills
  • Trees Falling
  • Claire & Johnny
  • The Room Over the Bar
  • Forest Hills Sub
  • The Goat Man
  • Dangerous Times
  • Ashes & Me

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2004, Peterborough Folk Music Society and David Schultz.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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