David Bromberg Dares Listeners to "Use Me" on Latest Album
By: James Thomas, June 22, 2012
Courtesy the artist - Multi-instrumentalist David Bromberg is known for his quirky, humorous lyrics and the ability to play rhythm and lead guitar at the same time. He will performs songs from his latest album, 'Use Me' at Payomet Performing Arts Center in Truro on July 1.
Grammy-nominated session man turned virtuoso bandleader David Bromberg comes to the Payomet Performing Arts Center on July 1 in promotion of his latest album, Use Me. Musician and critic James Thomas gave it a listen in advance of Bromberg’s visit to the outer Cape.
Sometimes you have a hard day. You need to come home, reach into the fridge and pull out an ice-cold beer. Not the latest microbrew from Belgium, not a certified organic homebrew from Vermont, not some bizarre seasonal experiment from the distributor. You just need an ice-cold American beer.
Use Me, the latest offering from David Bromberg, is the ice-cold American beer at the end of your hard day. The wheel does not get re-invented on this album. As it turns out, the wheel works just fine.
Sunday, July 1 at 8 PM
Payomet Performing Arts Center
29 Old Dewline Road, North Truro
Tickets: $30 to $75
Don’t be fooled by the packaging on this one. Use Me is a virtual Who’s Who of blues-oriented singer-songwriter all-stars. Bromberg’s distinctive playing and unmistakable vocals shine throughout, unifying the tracks into a uniquely cohesive blues album with racially ambiguous roots up and down the Mississippi and across the wide Western plains.
The album kicks into gear with an audible count-off into Tongue, a twelve bar blues in the iconic style of B.B. King, complete with B.B.’s horn lines and ruthless sexuality. Written in the first person and unabashedly so, this plainspoken blues tells the story of a very nasty breakup. There are no metaphors.
“I know it’s over/Relax, baby, I ain’t mad/I know it’s over, darling, but honey daddy ain’t mad/Tell you the truth little girl/You’re not the best thing this child ever had.”
It’s a solid opening track, setting the tone for the brutal honesty to follow. Plus, I’m a sucker for a shuffle. No one can shuffle like that anymore. No, really: the drummer on the track is Levon Helm.
The highlight of the album is the second track, Ride on Out a Ways, penned for Bromberg by Nashville artist John Hiatt. The instrumental content here is genuinely compelling. I would extract the organ track and listen to that by itself: the organ is fantastic. So is the guitar playing, produced with just a hint of overdriven reverb to match the organ. This tune just aches.
“We know how it could be, baby,” Bromberg intones in the opening lines. “Could” is the operative word, conditional on a future that we all know just ain’t coming.
For the slowest blues on the album, Diggin in the Deep Blue Sea, Bromberg is joined by Keb’Mo’. It’s a grinder, stripped down to not much beyond a ride cymbal, kick drum, and pulsating bass behind the environmentally conscious lyrics and gritty guitar interjections.
Widespread Panic joins Bromberg for Old Neighborhood, the most rock-oriented track on the album. It’s a Clapton-style blues, but Bromberg’s vocals are edgier than Clapton’s would ever be. The next track It’s Just a Matter of Time is a complete one-eighty, the most countrified blues on the album, with Linda Rondstadt haunting the tune with backup vocals.
Covering Bill Withers is a daring thing to attempt. You can’t try to do it like he does, that’s for sure. Bromberg ends the album with the title track, Wither’s Use Me. Once again, he defies expectations and finds a way to make it his own. The band turns in some very fine solo work on Wurlitzer and guitar, and Bromberg finds a way to give the tune a strangely different perspective from the original.
Like everything else on the album, it’s nothing new… but it just feels so damn good.