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500 Miles: The Blue Rock Sessions

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Album Review

Cliff Eberhardt may have come up on the same '80s East Coast singer/songwriter scene as Shawn Colvin, Lucy Kaplansky, John Gorka, et al., but even from the beginning he had rock & roll — and even pop — aspirations. His early albums found him leaning toward Springsteen-esque heartland rock and almost John Waite-ish balladry as much as the folkish approach of his aforementioned peers, and his rough-edged voice and hook-centric songwriting made it all work. The further into his career he gets, however, the more he concentrates on spare, acoustic-based settings and slow, soulful ballads. Call it "maturity," "evolution," or "back to basics," the important thing is that he can pull it off a hell of a lot more convincingly than some straight-up rocker for whom the acoustic troubadour mode is an unprecedented step. On this, the eighth album of a recording career that began in 1990, the fiftysomething songwriter furthers the organic, as-close-to-live-as-possible approach of his preceding release, The High Above and the Down Below, sounding completely at ease in this mode. Sometimes, as on "Have a Little Heart" and a remake of "The Long Road," the title track from his '90 debut album, Eberhardt lays into a big, bold pop melody that wouldn't sound out of place being belted out by an American Idol contestant (that's not a pejorative statement). But for the most part, his gritty, soul-soaked voice leans comfortably into more low-key constructions. Most of these songs have the feel of hard-earned wisdom from a man who has run life's emotional gauntlet and emerged with not just some trenchant, humbly offered observations, but the knowledge that the best way to put them across is a soft sell. ~ J. Allen, Rovi

Customer Reviews

What a Relief! We Needed Cliff

Been long enough since we've had a Cliff-fix. His voice is even richer, more textured and heartfelt than ever — a sure thing this remarkable storyteller and heartbreaker. Amazing new songs, perhaps his best. He tells these stories so believably in his sexy, sad, yet somehow endlessly hopeful voice. This time he's accompanied by Austin musicians who have added new layers to his normally stripped-down music. All together, it's intoxicating and sublime.

"Break a Train" — break-a-vein-open vulnerable.
"Easy Street" — bluesy, but smooth, and very hot.
"Have a Little Heart" — tender and sad.
"I Love Money" — swaggering and sultry.
"I Want to Take You Home with Me" — imploring, sweet and dreamy.
"You Won't Come Back to Me" — regretting and wistful.

Powerful version of John Hiatt's "Back of My Mind." Chilling how with Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul and Mary) recent passing he chose to cover "500 Miles" — a very unique interpretation that gives the song relevance today. As much as I love any version of his classic "The Long Road," and this one is awesome, I still prefer the 1990 version with the great Richie Havens!


Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '80s, '90s

Before he was even ten years old, singer/songwriter and guitarist Cliff Eberhardt knew the performing life was one he would embrace. Eberhardt grew up in a musical family, and despite growing up after the advent of television, he and his brothers and parents all sang together and played instruments. His father bought him his first guitar and he quickly learned to play, and got an additional education in his youth because of the family home's proximity to the Main Point Coffee House, one of the best...
Full Bio

Top Albums and Songs by Cliff Eberhardt

500 Miles: The Blue Rock Sessions, Cliff Eberhardt
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