Tour de force—noun: an exceptional achievement by an artist, author, or the like, that is unlikely to be equaled by that person or anyone else; stroke of genius
I have been familiar with Bob Brozman for several years. Some of the adjectives I have heard used to describe him are: monster, guitar demi-god, wizard and master. I've listened to a lot of his stuff before and was stunned by the power and depth of his technique but was always felt there was more fire, more personal emotion and intensity that just wasn't getting out.
It gets out on his new release, Post-Industrial Blues. The first track, Follow the Money, opens with, "If you want to know why we're going to war when your kids can't read or write anymore..." sets the tone lyrically and sets the musical pace. The swing-feel from this number leads into the more somber, Look At New Orleans. This lament for the Crescent City is emotionally on par with Charlie Patton's, High Water Everywhere.
Though the album has an overall blues feel and a definite political tone there are cuts that are not truly either but still fit within the grand flow of the collection. Strange Ukulele Blues is a beautiful work with a South American mood. Coming where it does in the collection is perfect timing. It's relatively simple arrangement (only three instruments) allows you to take a breath before he starts to build things back up with a great version of Green River Blues. Another change of pace comes with his light-hearted cover of The Doors People Are Strange. Light-hearted but still with the musical integrity he brings to everything on this CD. The last cut is something that might be described as Hawaiian slack-key meets the blues, How I Love That Woman.
A few of the instruments Mr. Brozman uses on this collection are National Baritone Tricone guitar, 7-string banjo, sanshin, National Tricone Hawaiian guitar, Dobro, marimba, baglama, chaturangui, glockenspiel, gandharvi, baritone lap steel, resophonic ukulele, National single-sone guitar, clave, tambourine, cajon, marimba pipes, pots and pans, cymbals, gongs, woodblocks, bamboo anklung and broken toy piano. He does share a bit of the load with some other talent folks; Jim Norris (drums) and Stan Poplin (bass) are there on many of the tracks.
Brozman is foremost a guitarist and if there is any weakness to what he gives us here it is the vocals. They are uneven. Or maybe they are just an acquired taste. The more I listened the better they seemed to work. He does a great job on several of the cuts and the falsetto on Airport Blues could almost have been Tommy Johnson.
I don't know if I had just heard the wrong things from Bob Brozman before but I heard the right stuff this time. This is a great CD that I will be listening to for a very long time. If you aren't familiar with him it's high time that you remedy that. If this isn't a tour de force then I have never heard one!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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