Artist: Dan Bern
Label: Syndicate Marketing
Release Date: 09/04/2015
Dan Bern has been making his slightly askew and irreverent observations in song since 1997. Borrowing heavily from folk and, to a lesser degree, rock and country idioms, he channels the spirit of luminaries such as Johnny Cash, the Beatles, and, especially, the early, flippant and hip Bob Dylan.
Mr. Bern’s new eclectic collection is topically titled “Hoody,” though the title song itself is not about Trevon Martin, but how easy it is for us to shut ourselves in the obscuring cocoon of hoodies. His voice is now better honed and mature, less frenetic than in his earlier works. His lyrics remain clever, insightful and laced with a sly sense of humor.
“Merle, Hank and Johnny” is a marvelous tribute to Haggard, Williams and Cash, all the more compelling as he lists the ways in which music and the world at large have moved far beyond the days when these three dominated the radio airwaves.
“Welcome” is the album’s strongest offering, and pure Dan Bern. It is an acerbic take on the current state of affairs. The lyrics say it best: “Welcome, welcome/Come and have some fun/We got every Chinese toy under the sun/And every Ponzi scheme/That ever has been run/And old men with hard-ons/And madmen with guns.” And again from “Waffle House”: “So let the pundits worry ’bout the gender gap/Tax policy/and all that crap/It ain’t gay marriage or the war on drugs/Red States got the Waffle House/Blue States don’t.” He just might be onto something!
Dan Bern continues to poke holes in the bright balloons of our time, with grace and humor, grounding us in the things that matter most. That’s reason enough to be glad for yet another Dan Bern release.