David Baerwald Here Comes The New Folk Underground

Although he has commonly been associated with the more glossy L.A. roots-rock community through his work in David + David and with Sheryl Crow, Baerwald has nevertheless always flirted with the mainstream, rather than allowing himself to be seduced by it. So on this latest solo effort there is plenty of the streamlined folk-rock vibe that has characterised his past but his gritty urban tales are still what sets him apart from other artists toiling in this genre. His flair for detail remains his strongest point, as displayed in "The Crash," "Rachel got into the back seat/Cut her knee on broken glass/Tore her stockings on the ashtray/Let the air flow through her hands." However, Baerwald's biggest obstacle seems to be the lack of any distinct personality that comes across on this album. At times, he's almost like a middle-aged Ryan Adams - Adams should in fact be taking notes from this record for his future output - but Baerwald will probably continue to be typecast as a "songwriter's songwriter," so long as pretty faces like Crow and Shelby Lynne grab the spotlight for mining pretty much the same territory. Fans of either of those artists would do well to give Baerwald a chance. (Lost Highway)