11 Songs, 45 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

By turns soulful, absurdist, and politically charged, Bhi Bhiman—a first-generation American of Sri Lankan ancestry—works in the scrappy folk troubadour tradition of Woody Guthrie and displays a caustic wit worthy of Randy Newman and John Prine. His voice is filled with aching resonance, wailing with wounded pride in the hobo’s anthem “Guttersnipe” and taking on Marvin Gaye–like tones in the jealousy-wracked “Eye on You.” Propelled by his deft acoustic guitar work, Bhiman can embody both a hard-pressed North Korean worker (“Kimchee Line”) and a greedy corporate fat cat (“The Cookbook”) with equal confidence. Skewed country tunes like “Crime of Passion” and “Ballerina” take his penchant for zaniness to lurid heights. Even when shifting to a mellower mood (as on “Take What I’m Given”), he retains his sharp sense of social commentary. Judicious use of keyboards, vibraphone, and light percussion rounds out the album's spare sound. It's smart, timely, and deeply humane.

EDITORS’ NOTES

By turns soulful, absurdist, and politically charged, Bhi Bhiman—a first-generation American of Sri Lankan ancestry—works in the scrappy folk troubadour tradition of Woody Guthrie and displays a caustic wit worthy of Randy Newman and John Prine. His voice is filled with aching resonance, wailing with wounded pride in the hobo’s anthem “Guttersnipe” and taking on Marvin Gaye–like tones in the jealousy-wracked “Eye on You.” Propelled by his deft acoustic guitar work, Bhiman can embody both a hard-pressed North Korean worker (“Kimchee Line”) and a greedy corporate fat cat (“The Cookbook”) with equal confidence. Skewed country tunes like “Crime of Passion” and “Ballerina” take his penchant for zaniness to lurid heights. Even when shifting to a mellower mood (as on “Take What I’m Given”), he retains his sharp sense of social commentary. Judicious use of keyboards, vibraphone, and light percussion rounds out the album's spare sound. It's smart, timely, and deeply humane.

TITLE TIME
6:52
5:28
3:23
4:19
1:09
3:17
3:38
2:44
6:07
4:14
3:54

About Bhi Bhiman

The son of Sri Lankan immigrants, one-of-a-kind folksinger and songwriter Bhi Bhiman (he was named after a character in the Mahabharata) spent his childhood in St. Louis, Missouri, and began playing guitar when he was nine years old. As a teen he fell under the influence of bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains, but as he began to write his own songs, full of joyous wordplay and sharp humor, he began to sound more like Bob Dylan or Woody Guthrie, and he developed an utterly unique, Americana-fueled style that turned on his remarkable, Nina Simone-like voice. Relocating to the Bay Area, Bhiman began to establish himself on the local circuit, and released an album, Cookbook, in 2007. His songwriting style, which ranged from political to personal, continued to evolve, and his second album, simply called Bhiman and released early in 2012, marked the arrival of an artist fully formed and drew comparison to songwriters like Randy Newman, Dylan, John Prine, and Phil Ochs, although his sharp observations, puns, characters, and approach were wonderfully his own. ~ Steve Leggett

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