Album Reviews

Craig Bickhardt – The More I Wonder (Stone Barn Records)

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Craig Bickhardt The More I WonderIf Craig Bickhardt could bank on his credentials, he’d likely have the means to garner greater recognition. And yet, even after having his songs covered by Reba McEntire, Nicolette Larson, Steve Wariner, Kathy Mattea and the Judds, he still purveys the image of a sensitive singer/songwriter concerned with matters of the heart. Think Dan Fogelberg, Gordon Lightfoot or Art Garfunkel for quick comparisons.

Of course, being a romantic balladeer isn’t the kind of thing that should shake the rafters or make the big splash that hype, hyperbole and a stage full of splashy dancers supposedly entails. Acoustic guitars and minimal arrangements force a closer listen, while also ensuring an emotional connection that’s pure of purpose and ultimately affecting. Consequently, songs like “Crazy Nightingale,” “The Restless Kind,” Stan,” and “Young Hearts, Wild Horses on the Wind” become profoundly intimate experiences, all bittersweet ballads that defy any possibility of maintaining a dry eye.

Sadly, there aren’t many avenues left for those who specialize in heart-spun narratives and sublime serenades. In that sense, Bickhardt is a bit of a throwback in a retro sort of way. With The More I Wonder, the more obvious that becomes. 

– Lee Zimmerman

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