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Folk/Americana - Released May 22, 2007 | Appleseed

Eric Andersen got his start as a singer/songwriter just about the time the folk revival went bust in the mid-'60s, when the phrase "singer/songwriter" wasn't familiar, as it is today. Now, some 40 years later, Andersen continues to follow his muse, which includes a deep investment in the blues on the live Blue Rain. Andersen's voice seems to have grown richer and has developed more texture over the span of time, something that rarely happens to rock singers; as a result, his readings of familiar lyrics carry more weight. He kicks off the set with a slow, menacing version of Fred Neil's "The Other Side of This Life." For folk fans, the song is overly familiar, but Andersen's vocal provides a darker underpinning than the usual, adding a new dimension to this well-worn classic. This and songs like "The Blues Keep Fallin' Like the Rain" might even leave one to wonder if Andersen is channeling Neil. To sweeten the blues mix, Andersen is joined by a solid band that never overplays, giving Blue Rain a simple, no-frills approach. There's more upbeat stuff, with Andersen exchanging his guitar for keyboards, but even here, certain titles -- "Don't It Make You Wanna Sing the Blues" -- can't get away from the album's overarching mood. Blue Rain is a good place to reacquaint oneself with a fine musician and singer. © Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released February 22, 2000 | Appleseed

This umpteenth collection from veteran folkie Andersen is his most diverse and adventurous in years. Pairing Andersen with Lou Reed on the affecting title cut here may seem like a strange idea, but it makes sense when you hear it. There are also four excellent, recently unearthed tracks that Andersen co-wrote with the late Townes Van Zandt, and a couple of strong original ballads, the best of which -- the moody "Magdalena" about a close friend who died in a car crash -- may alone be worth the price of admission. Less successful are some of the tracks Andersen recorded with Delta blues musicians. The backup is excellent but as Andersen admits in the liner notes, he is not a blues artist, and these tracks fail to take full advantage of his strengths. They also seem tossed off, and indeed they were. Andersen says that since it took him eight years to record his last album, he decided to make this one "quickly and simply." He recorded the blues tracks in two days, and they may leave you wondering whether there might have been some good middle ground between two days and eight years. Overall, though, this is terrific stuff. Particularly if you're already a fan, you won't be disappointed with the lion's share of it. © Jeff Burger /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released September 21, 2004 | Appleseed

This is the first of a projected two-volume set by singer/songwriter Eric Andersen showcasing the songs of his youth, by some of its best-known as well as by all-but-forgotten songwriters from the New York Greenwich Village scene of the early- to mid-'60s. There are modern versions of classics like Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier," Bob Dylan's "Hard Rain's Gonna Fall," Tim Hardin's "Misty Roses," and Fred Neil's "The Other Side of This Life," and Phil Ochs' "I Ain't Marching Anymore." There are tunes that are now considered obscure tunes too, such as Paul Siebel's "Louise," David Blue's "These 23 Days in September," Patrick Sky's "Many a Mile," Peter La Farge's "Johnny Half-Breed." As well as a pair of originals, in the title track and "Waves of Freedom." What this all amounts to is nothing more than nostalgia. First there's the package: There are no less than three sets of liner notes including an utterly verbose, florid, self-indulgent insult to the intelligence by writer Glenn O'Brien. Next is the music itself. Andersen, despite his plethora of musical guests like Pete Kennedy, Wyclef Jean, Happy Traum, John Sebastian and Sky adds nothing to this material. Andersen's voice is shot; it's ragged and his delivery ridiculously stresses how "important" these songs are, or at least how important they are supposed to be. Make no mistake, they made a difference once, they were anthems and road signs for what was at that time a new consciousness among America's youth -- not the least of which is Andersen's "Waves of Freedom," which is easily the best song on the set. Most of the arrangements here don't work either. A case in point is the army of bagpipes, penny whistles and military drums that overwhelm "I Ain't Marching Anymore": they utterly undermine the poignant meaning and intention of the tune. Actually, in almost every instance, Andersen's ragged manner makes these songs seem like ghosts who've been haunting the landscape for far too long and wish to move on to their rest. Rather than inspire, Andersen's recording comes off as beaten, lost, and bewildered. It feels as if he's trying to convince himself that these songs still mean something, rather than his listeners. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released September 21, 2004 | Appleseed

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Folk/Americana - Released October 18, 2005 | Appleseed

The folk music movement centered in New York's Greenwich Village in the early 1960s, although it was steeped in traditional repertoire, it quickly focused on new, original songs written by the performers themselves, songs that explored mature personal concerns and commented on the social and political issues of the day. Eric Andersen was a part of that movement while it was happening, so his "Great American Song Series," the second volume of which is called Waves (following the first volume, 2004's The Street Was Always There) represents a participant interpreting the compositions of his peers. Unlike, say, Rod Stewart recording his Great American Songbook series of pre-rock standards with little sense of what those songs were about, this is more what you might get if, for example, Hoagy Carmichael had made an album of the songs of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and George Gershwin. In fact, that comparison is particularly apt because Carmichael, though of the same generation as those songwriters, was actually just a little younger, which is also true of Andersen, who was born after, but within a few years, of every songwriter he covers on this album except John Sebastian (and Sebastian is less than a year younger). Andersen may have been closest to Phil Ochs personally among these musical friends, but he did not share Ochs' focus on politics, which tended to make his interpretations of songs like "I Ain't Marching Anymore" on The Street Was Always There less than convincing. Here, he sticks to Ochs' sad, lovely, and apolitical "Changes," to which he is much more suited. But he shows the greatest affinity for moody, introspective singer/songwriters like Tim Buckley ("Once I Was") and Fred Neil ("I've Got a Secret"), recalling their phrasing while adding his own style as a gloss. (Similarly, the Neil and Tim Hardin songs provided the best moments on The Street Was Always There.) Andersen himself probably wouldn't claim to have improved upon the original artists' versions of these songs, but covering them provides a different perspective, brings them up to date, and may help rescue some of them from obscurity. "If Eric has done his job," writes annotator Robbie Woliver, "I hope you will trek down to your local record store ...." As the two albums appear to have been recorded at the same sessions, this is probably the end of Andersen's musical reminiscence, and he seems to have covered the obvious bases. Still, there's more where these came from, and there are still a few people (Richie Havens and Mark Spoelstra, to name two) so far unrepresented, so a third volume would not be amiss. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released October 18, 2005 | Appleseed

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Folk/Americana - Released February 22, 2000 | Appleseed

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Folk/Americana - Released May 22, 2007 | Appleseed

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Folk/Americana - Released February 25, 2003 | Appleseed