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Here Comes the New Folk Underground

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Album Review

Last time David Baerwald released an album — and it was a good, long nine years ago — he went for the deliberately obscure and willfully difficult, from the title Triage on down to the deep, dark grooves of the music. Now, in 2002, he came back seemingly from nowhere with a record that announced its intent in its title: Here Comes the New Folk Underground. Of course, Baerwald didn't spend the years since Triage in exile — he was an instrumental force in Sheryl Crow's breakthrough Tuesday Night Music Club and was nominated for a Golden Globe for "Come What May," the love song for Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge. Still, the comeback in 2002 seems apropos of nothing, but Baerwald claimed in the press release accompanying his album that he thought there was no place for his kind of songwriting until Lost Highway came along. And that very well may be true — though he certainly wasn't a stranger to slick productions in the past (both David & David's Boomtown and his solo debut were state-of-the-art productions), he wrote songs more reminiscent of short stories than radio-ready ditties, and his music was firmly entrenched in classic singer/songwriter tradition, hardly a welcome sound in the post-grunge '90s. So, he sat it out, eventually coming back once the alt-country movement made it OK for him to resurface, but the thing is, as this understated but gloriously realized comeback illustrates, he's both too literary and too musical to be grouped with the humorless, doggedly serious traditionalists that have laid claim to roots music and singer/songwriter tradition through passive-aggressive maneuvers. With a sly, deft hand, Baerwald reveals the folly of treating songwriting as a gravely serious matter, turning out a record that is warm and musically supple, filled with words that are as effective at relating pathos as turning a joke. This doesn't reveal anything new, but it's much more accessible than Triage, more resonant than Bedtime Stories, and as consistent, in content and theme, as Boomtown. This doesn't mean it's a masterpiece, since he still falls into some of his pitfalls — pretension gets the better of him a few times, whether it's in the deliberately sub-Bukowski, Randy Newman-meets-Tom Waits "If (A Boy Whore In a Man's Jail)" or the "slip-slide" motif on "The Crash" — but these become endearing with repeated listens, and the fact is, very few contemporary songwriters wind up with albums as musically and emotionally satisfying as this. Let's hope it doesn't take a decade for Baerwald to release another record.

Customer Reviews

Here Comes The New Folk Underground

Would really, REALLY like for itunes to offer Bedtime Stories....tyvm

Probably his weakest album...

I loved Boomtown and Bedtime Stories and found Triage not bad, but this must be Mr Baerwald's weakest album. It has its moments and it was good to find it here, but I personally don't think he's at his best. Incidentally, all albums bar Bedtime Stories, which I found in the UK on vinyl, were either imports to the UK, found in the States or in US iTunes. There seems to be little market for his music outside America, which's a shame.

wow.

david baerwald, has composed some of the most genuinely warm hearted, pop/rock vibes and tempos of the new era. I'm really shocked no one else has reviewed it. The lack of material makes David only worthy of three stars. I would absolutely adore hearing more albums. Alas, Hellbound Train and Bozo Weirdo Wacko Creep do not seem appropriate for children. i'm honored to listen to this melody of contempory music. CONGRATS DAVID!

Biography

Born: 1960 in Oxford, OH

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

After the quick dissolution of David & David in the mid-'80s, David Baerwald began a solo career, releasing his solo debut, Bedtime Stories, in 1990. As with David & David's sole album, it was an album of deceptively laid-back pop; the calm production and subtle, memorable melodies hid the fact that Baerwald's characters were either inflicting or suffering from emotional pain. It was a triumph, winning raves from critics, but it sold very few copies. With his second album, 1993's Triage,...
Full Bio
Here Comes the New Folk Underground, David Baerwald
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