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Delivered (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

Mark Erelli has never been a groundbreaking or terribly original artist, but when it comes to providing thoughtful, compelling folk-rock and Americana, he is a masterful expert — and those who have admired the East Coast singer/songwriter's previous work will find that his excellence continues to hold up on Delivered. This 2008 release contains a few amplified rockers, including "Shadowland" and the somewhat Bruce Springsteen-ish "Baltimore." But much of the time, Erelli favors an unplugged and decidedly minimalist approach — which works well for him because using fewer instruments makes his lyrics stand out more. Delivered is highly contemplative, and one of the things Erelli contemplates is politics. He gets very political on songs like "Volunteers," "Shadowland," and "Hope Dies Last," all of which are on the melancholy side. Erelli takes a look at political topics — the Iraq War, George W. Bush's disastrous presidency, turmoil in the Middle East — and he doesn't give the listener a lot of reason to feel optimistic about the state of the world. Not that Delivered is an exclusively political album; actually, only about one-third of the songs are political in nature. And whether Erelli is being political or not, the influences that have worked well for him in the past — influences that include Bob Dylan (a major influence), Springsteen, John Hiatt, and Neil Young — still serve him well on Delivered. Released about ten years after Erelli recorded his self-titled debut album, Delivered is his seventh release on Signature Sounds and isn't the least bit disappointing.

Customer Reviews

Moving Americana folk-country and rootsy rock

Over the past nine years Mark Erelli's explored a variety of Americana sounds, including singer-songwriter folk-country, western swing, nineteenth-century traditional tunes, and mid-American roots rock. His latest collection of folk and roots rock songs focus on family and society, including intimate first-person discoveries and broader political and social commentaries. The disc opens with "Hope Dies Last," detailing the endless stream of horrific news with which we're beaten on a daily basis. Sung intimately, Erelli sounds like Paul Simon worn down from the battles of younger years, provoked by a president who'd "rather talk to Jesus than to anyone who disagrees," and pragmatically stifling his anger in the face of the endless bad news cycles. The same combination of confusion and resignation threads through "Volunteers" and its harrowing look at a weekend guardsman's entrapment as a full-time soldier in Iraq. Sung starkly to an acoustic guitar, the pained vocal wails that close the song provide a live wire abstract of the lyrics' horrors. The guitars toughen on "Shadowland," as does Erelli's critique of the extra-legal measures employed in the war and the resulting depletion of our moral foundation. Several songs explore isolation and spirituality. The traveling musician of "Unraveled" looks home for salvation, and the questioning "Not Alone" travels between breezy images of nature, sleepy small town Sundays, and the heart of the city. The music climbs sympathetically from acoustic folk to full-blown country-rock and back. More peaceful is the first-person anticipation of a believer's reward in "Delivered," and its comfort for those left behind., and more contemplative is the working stiff of "Five Beer Moon," dejectedly downing a six-pack and starting at the sea. Contemplating his small-town circumstance he finds himself trapped in a place where freedom is only in the imagination. Things turn upbeat with the rootsy rock of "Baltimore." Its romantic longing and on-the-road lyrics ("I got a pawnshop ring and a yellow rose bouquet, honey that I bought in a cheap truck stop") couple with shuffling drums and whistling organ to echo the character of Steve Earle's Guitar Town. Erelli turns personal with two moving songs of fatherhood. In “Man of the Family” he steps into his late father’s shoes, wondering if he’s ready for the responsibility and realizing he’d been left all the tools he’ll need; in the lighter “Once” Erelli luxuriates in the love of fatherhood. Whether drawing from personal experience or creating fictional scenes, Erelli's songs remain grounded with human emotion in every performance. [©2008 hyperbolium dot com]

The Soundtrack for Upheaval

Mark Erelli puts to song what too many are afraid to say while his beautifully crafted melodies jolt us out of our complacency. At a time when things are so badly in need of real change, Mark delivers us the sound track for upheaval. This is a five-star effort from top to bottom. -- PD in MA

Bob Dylan for the Next generation

This guy is goooood!

Biography

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Americana singer/songwriter Mark Erelli made a nice splash when he appeared on the music scene in 1999 with an eponymous debut from Signature Sounds. Critics from Billboard to the Boston Herald sang the musician's praises, and the Kerrville New Folk Contest named him top dog in its competition. Erelli followed up two years later with the album Compass & Companion, drawing more accolades as well as a pair of nominations from the Boston Music Awards. Kelly Willis appeared on the album, singing with...
Full Bio
Delivered (Bonus Track Version), Mark Erelli
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