The Trouble With Love
Richard Burgin

An enlightening hybrid, Richard Burgin’s The Trouble With Love is the rare album that ably sets one mood inside of another. With vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Chris Cefalu performing Burgin’s songs—and venturing from fuzzed-up Little Walter-style harp solos to clean Grant Green guitar lines to do so—we regularly encounter a dense melancholia that is nonetheless edged by a knowing ebullience. Essentially, the album squares up the life issues that dog many of us—from the distempering pains of failed love to random, daily ennui—and offers a musical antidote. It’s ambitious, but Burgin’s strength is that of pointed understatement, conferring meaning by leaving out the high-gloss drama that a lot of writers focus on and letting implication do its bit. These are some deep, nasty blues on Love, but they tend to shuffle rather than bemoan. “Haven’t Been To Hell In Awhile,” is more pleading than sardonic, with Cefalu’s phrasing corresponding to the downbeats and upticks of his guitar fills, a gesture of concordance. The lament thus grows into a celebration, and, more than that, a proper love song on the coda, with the earnestness of a Marvelettes record, but a wiser person’s restraint. The title track and “Just For The Love of You” employ all manner of word play and enjambment, the latter being akin to a good time boogie woogie cut, but with more space and slack in the groove. Burgin the lyricist really lets loose on “Good Old Me,” a stomper—or, rather, a witty satire of a stomper, sans churlishness—declaring “This place is so ridiculous/It’s like a highway with/A town running through it,” like urban sprawl has reversed itself, a playful metaphor for our cluttered, techno-centric times. The album has the sonic warmth of an old Vocalion disc, and it covers enough styles—soft-shoe, folk, Chicago blues, lullaby, torch song—that time and identity become highly adaptable concepts centered on what one might be feeling or thinking on a given day. All of which qualifies Love as a concept album of sorts—a record doubling as a companion who seems to account for our changing circumstances and moods, and responds accordingly.


  • Aug 04, 2009 at 08:04PM bandini

  • Aug 05, 2009 at 05:15PM Colin Fleming

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Colin Fleming