It's been five long years since Cliff Eberhardt has released a new recording, and have I missed him! The High Above and the Down Below brings us twelve new Eberhardt classics. The theme is the present—living in the here and now. The music is a mixture of contemporary pop and blues, with jazz influences. The lyrics, as in all of Eberhardt's work, snap, crackle and pop.
The CD gets off to a rollicking start with Eberhardt's take on life, traveling through the high above, the down below, and everywhere in between. This is a blues number that shakes, rattles and rolls:
Come a midnight train, and it calls your name
Can you hear that whistle blow?
Better pack your bags 'cause you leave tonight
For the high above and the down below
There's some topnotch musicianship here, from Eberhardt's hard hitting guitar, to Rich Dworsky on Hammond B3 organ, to J.T. Bates on drums, to Gordy Johnson on bass.
No one sings a love song like Cliff Eberhardt. In Missing You the passion, the deep emotions, the sense of regret, the heart worn on the sleeve—they are all here. And there is always a woman in some faraway place who weighs on the songwriter's mind. This is a song about sharing memories and remembering the past.
The Right Words is reminiscent of the great torch songs of the Thirties and Forties. You are sitting in a club, taking long, slow sips of your drink, and listening to the singer at the piano bar pour out his heartache for all the world to see. Susan Werner has always been adept at capturing the spirit of Cole Porter and George Gershwin, but you feel that Cliff Eberhardt is the true master of evoking these greats. It's all in the lyrics, the soulful guitar and the melancholy piano. This is a great song.
Eberhardt displays his skill for writing the perfect pop song in the optimistic After the Rain Falls and in the wistful Dug Your Own Grave.
No song better delivers a carefree, living in the moment sensibility than the jazzy "Let This Whole Thing Burn," one of the recording's best cuts:
Now that we are lovers, it's hot under the covers
We can't teach what people just won't learn
Let's open up the windows, stay up late
And watch this whole thing burn
I have to hand it to Red House Records producer Eric Peltoniemi for understanding what Cliff Eberhardt and his music is all about. By placing Eberhardt's singing and acoustic guitar at the center of this project, and framing each song with some of the finest backing musicians I've heard in a long time, he's succeeded in creating Eberhardt's best piece of work to date. It is a testament to the skill not only of the artist, but to the producer as well, that so many of the songs resonate long after you listen to them. The High Above and the Down Below is well worth the wait. And it's one of the best CD's of 2007.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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