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Cliff Eberhardt - 500 Miles: The Blue Rock Sessions

500 Miles:
The Blue Rock Sessions

Cliff Eberhardt

Red House Records - RHR CD 221

Available from Red House Records.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Roberta B. Schwartz
(rschwart@bowdoin.edu)

The Texas Hill Country, where 500 Miles was recorded over a period of several months, clearly inspired Cliff Eberhardt to create his best work to date. Eberhardt, writing and singing with a renewed soulfulness, delivers ten new original songs, and brings new life to two well-known covers. Producer Billy Crockett and a group of well-chosen accompanying players imbue Eberhardt's work with the rich rhythms of the blues, Texas style. There are ballads about love, humorous songs about money, and a classic tune that everyone will remember. But most of all, there is Cliff Eberhardt making music. And that is a very sweet thing.

Kicking things off is Eberhardt's take on Hedy West's classic, 500 Miles. It is just Cliff on acoustic guitar packing powerful yet understated emotions. His skillful guitar playing is front and center here. This tune is one of the CD's best cuts.

Have a Little Heart is a classic beautifully written and performed Eberhardt song of love and loss. Here, it seems, there is a winner and a loser. All of the musicians…Billy Crockett and Mike Hardwick on guitar, Glenn Fukunaga on bass, and Rick Richards on drums…know how to support the strength and richness of Eberhardt's vocals without overpowering them. It is one of those songs you will remember long after your first listen.

And then we move from loss to love and romance with the lush and lovely I Want to Take You Home with Me. Joel Guzman on accordion and Billy Crockett on mandolin inspire visions of piazzas and sidewalk cafes. Love waits…

Some subtle, slinky blues and a sly sense of humor characterize the tongue-in-cheek I Love Money. Here's a taste:

Money, money, money come over here and sit by me.
Money, money, money why are you always teasin' me?
Money, money, money can I put my hand upon your knee?
Can't buy me love, but you can buy me nearly everything I need.

You Won't Come Back to Me is a brilliant gem of a song. It is the perfect song about lost love and the longing that remains long after the lover is gone. Eberhardt's voice is tender; almost sweet. But there's that edge of heartache as well. I love the restraint of Eberhardt's vocal and guitar—it is beautifully played. Colin Brooks lends support on resonator guitar.

The recording ends with a new version of Eberhardt's classic, The Long Road, from his first recording of the same title. This version is more wistful, more tender, definitely less angry and wonderfully triumphant. It moves you in a way that only Cliff Eberhardt can.

500 Miles is a powerful return to songwriting for Cliff Eberhardt. Without a doubt, he is one of the best artists of his generation, and 500 Miles is one of the best recordings of the year.

Track List:

  • 500 Miles (Hedy West)
  • Have a Little Heart
  • I Want to Take You Home
  • Lonelyville
  • I Love Money
  • Break a Train
  • Easy Street
  • Little Town
  • When the Leaves Begin to Fall
  • You Won't Come Back to Me
  • Back of My Mind (John Hiatt)
All songs written by Cliff Eberhardt except where noted.

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

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Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society and Roberta B. Schwartz.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
 

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