Cliff Eberhardt may have come up on the same ’80s East Coast singer/songwriter scene as Shawn Colvin, Lucy Kaplansky, John Gorka, et al., but even from the beginning he had rock & roll — and even pop — aspirations. His early albums found him leaning toward Springsteen-esque heartland rock and almost John Waite-ish balladry as much as the folkish approach of his aforementioned peers, and his rough-edged voice and hook-centric songwriting made it all work. The further into his career he gets, however, the more he concentrates on spare, acoustic-based settings and slow, soulful ballads. Call it “maturity,” “evolution,” or “back to basics,” the important thing is that he can pull it off a hell of a lot more convincingly than some straight-up rocker for whom the acoustic troubadour mode is an unprecedented step. On this, the eighth album of a recording career that began in 1990, the fiftysomething songwriter furthers the organic, as-close-to-live-as-possible approach of his preceding release, The High Above and the Down Below, sounding completely at ease in this mode. Sometimes, as on “Have a Little Heart” and a remake of “The Long Road,” the title track from his ’90 debut album, Eberhardt lays into a big, bold pop melody that wouldn’t sound out of place being belted out by an American Idol contestant (that’s not a pejorative statement). But for the most part, his gritty, soul-soaked voice leans comfortably into more low-key constructions. Most of these songs have the feel of hard-earned wisdom from a man who has run life’s emotional gauntlet and emerged with not just some trenchant, humbly offered observations, but the knowledge that the best way to put them across is a soft sell.
“Louise Mosrie may well be the brightest young folk-oriented artist to emerge from Nashville in many a year. On her second release her pure, expressive voice delivers the songs with the perfect balance of expressiveness and direction. Better still, the exquisite, very low key production keeps Mosrie’s voice out front and shining. This is Mosrie with a few well chosen, subtle accompanists. A pleasing aspect of this CD is its ideal mix of personal songs and songs outside of Mosrie’s own life, such as song set in the Civil War and one about a young girl leaving home for the larger world in 1920 and coming to grief. In my book, Mosrie’s song “Singing My Heart Out” alone is worth buying this CD.”—Rich Warren, WFMT-FM “Midnight Special” Chicago