A Review of the CD
"Storied Lives"
by Richard Berman


"Storied Lives"
by Richard Berman

Copyright 2000 - Aries 004
Western Massachusetts Music
555 Bay Road
Amherst, MA 01002
http://www.songs.com/rberman and
mailto:rlberman@amherst.edu

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 4/00
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
http://www.kevindmccarthy.com/music/index.html
send me an email message

Massachusetts. Where there are more registered folksingers than Democrats. Fortunately for us, one of them is Richard Berman whose latest release "Storied Lives" is a continuance of his precise, well-crafted creations. Berman is an inquisitive and keen observer who draws inspiration from a multitude of sources, without succumbing to overwriting.

Here, Berman dips into mythology ("Broken Wings", "Oedipus"), cultural dichotomy ("On the Mexican Coast"), familial relationships ("Broken Wings" again, "The Cowboy's Tale", "Sweeter Than Playing Alone", "Sarah", "Let Him Know Your Heart", "How Old Is Your Boy" and "Song to My Father"), the contrasts within nature ("Alamogordo"), new age group psychology ("Arthur, Arthur, Arthur") and football ("Odessa"). Did I leave anything out?

The subtle but powerful "On the Mexican Coast," based upon an anonymously written story emailed to Berman, contrasts the paths two individuals take to reach a similar goal. A retired American businessman and a Mexican fisherman compare notes on their goals in life. The retiree wonders why the fisherman doesn't work longer and harder so as to buy a second boat, eventually a fleet, a canning plant and then a stock offering leading to the plush retirement of a millionaire. The fisherman, who earlier states "I have enough for my needs" asks:

Exactly the life the fisherman is currently leading.

"Oedipus," is a worthy companion piece to Mark Graham's hilarious "Oedipus Rex." Berman sings:

Backed by Chris Divine on fiddle and with harmony vocals by Kate Wallace, Berman's "Sweeter Than Playing Alone" is a love letter to a betrothed. He sings:

His chorus goes:

Inspired by the book "Friday Night Lights," "Odessa" dramatizes how high school football provides life's defining moments for both individuals and community in that west Texas town. Berman's last chorus, depicting a former player who now probably sells cars, tends bar or labors out in the oil fields, goes:

With exquisite piano backing by Chris Haynes that adds emotional content, "Sarah," is Berman sweetly speaking of his wife:

He closes with "Song to My Father," a portrait of a young man desiring acceptance for who he is, regardless of his father's plans for him. Berman sings"

Never splashy or outrageous, Berman is the perfect fit for those quiet nights of comtemplation. If you aren't thinking about anything in particular as you slip his music into your CD player, you certainly will be doing so afterwards.

Berman on vocals and guitar is backed by Chris Devine on penny whistle and fiddle; Chris Haynes on accordion and piano; Kate Wallace, Jim Henry and Kate O'Connor on vocal harmony; Rico Spence on bass; and Max Cohen on lead guitar.

Track List:

All songs written by Richard Berman.


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