Eric Balkey,
My Sacred Heart
(Hudson Harding, 2007)

Though not necessarily a religious one, My Sacred Heart is a deeply spiritual album, with a central theme of service and attention to others.

Eric Balkey announces his theme by opening with a cover of Bob Dylan's "What Good am I?" which questions his worth if not serving the needs of others and doing what is spiritually right. If you didn't catch on from the Dylan cover, he turns to "If God is an Apple," a song he wrote with co-producer and accompanyist, Tom Prasada-Rao.

Balkey sees the spirit in every aspect of life. His need is to establish and maintain a connection with others, to be useful; the man wants to make a difference. That's what his songs, at least, promote. Offering clean and simple arrangements featuring mostly his guitar, supplemented by tasteful work by multi-instrumentalist Tom Prasada-Rao, the CD never overpowers but also never descends to the level of background music. The sparse arrangements suit Balkey's soft and gentle voice well. Cary Cooper sings occasional harmony and Pat Wictor plays slide on one song.

The 11 new songs are enough to recommend this CD, but there is more. As a bonus track, Balkey includes a complete half-hour radio interview, "The Art of the Song," in which he discusses the art of songwriting and his musical philosophy. He also offers examples, both recorded and sung live in the studio. It's a fascinating piece. Anyone interested in creativity or songwriting will listen to it more than once.

Like the rest of the tracks on this CD, "The Art of the Song" introduces a man whose music grows out of a strong personal need, a sense of caring and deep feeling for all of humankind. It shows what can happen when the creation comes from a need to share something deeply felt, rather than simply a desire to express the artist's ego.

With Eric Balkey, it's about the music, rather than money and fame.

by Michael Scott Cain
2 June 2007

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