Marc Herman,
(Mr. Fisticuffs, 2003)

Singer-songwriter Marc Herman's entertaining second album features some fine musicians on a wide variety of instruments, traveling from folk and country through blues and jazz to rock. Opening slowly with "Dog Eared Dollar," with its lugubrious Dobro lamentations about the failings of a tatty dollar note, the pace alters throughout the play list until Herman closes with (my favorite) "My Eyes are Blue," a balladic musing on the aftermath of a breakup.

Herman sets up a wealth of contrasts throughout the album's 10 songs. There is a world of difference between "Pearl," a cheeky, occasionally bawdy foot-stomping country-rock song (yes, you did hear those lyrics correctly) and "Olivia," a much more restrained, refined, slow and plaintive piano piece, somewhat reminiscent of Billy Joel. "Gal o' Mine" is a light, almost retro little love song. Herman's cover of "Whiskey Song" is a good bit of blues, and his take on "Diamond Joe" is done in fine style. "Blow By Blow (the Shaker's Ballad)" is a serious piece of folk-country, with a delivery and structure that reminds the listener of Dire Straits' "Telegraph Road." "Charlie's Gonna Fix 'er Up" does a 180 in a country-style wry tune about a procrastinating do-it-yourselfer.

Even on the slower, more serious tracks, you get the feeling that Herman's quirky sense of humor will surface in the next tune. The lyrics run the emotional gamut, making the album extremely listenable. And even when you think it has finished, there's a wee bit more, so don't be leaping up to change CDs at the end of "My Eyes are Blue."

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 17 October 2004

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