Album Review

Steve Forbert Has Never Been Compromised

Steve Forbert - Compromised

I think it’s safe to say that I love and possibly thrive on music, like a big ugly weed that has this gigantic root system. No matter how many times you pull, another one comes back a day later, only greener, brighter. That said, Steve Forbert’s obligatory calling card song is and will always be “Romeo’s Tune,” which was force-fed via every airwave around 1980, and it was a damn fine tune at that.

I was one year old in 1980, and will honestly say that I remember that song. My memory came in the form of a strange mist around the eyes, a true ‘oh shit’ moment. Perhaps a fleeting feeling or memory of an impending familial separation. But despite what any scientific cat may say about a one-year-old’s memory, I remember it. And I remember liking it … my proverbial roots were spreading like wildfire.

Whether you’re a fan of Forbert’s music or not, he deserves respect. He blazed his trail as a true singer-songwriter, a songwriter’s songwriter, earning his ‘comeuppance’ amongst the Prines, Clarks, and other original folk and country royalty. The Mississippi native is set to release his 16th record Compromised on November 6 via Rock Ridge Music.

One thing I respect the most in a musician, more so a songwriter, is the notion of making the song itself the star. The lyrical story and melodies are the star, the writer and musicians are the catalyst -- a conduit from brain, to soul, to ear. Forbert has been doing this since well before I was dropped on this Earth, and garnered legions of fans and followers along the way. Compromised is simply another quality song-crafting effort by Forbert and his long list of contributors on this record. There are a couple misses but even the misses leave a mark. That’s the essence of a great songwriter.

The crown jewel of the album is “Devil,” hands down. It's a jangly pop number that would find a home on Shakedown Street and Music Row simultaneously -- a lusty tune about a beauty in a blue dress and the trials of a married man who can’t seem to shake the dark brown-haired beauty. All the while, the tune is carried by heavenly mandolin fills and solos, and some fancy Telecaster picking. It’s all about the song, in true Forbert fashion.

“Welcome the Rolling Stones” is an obtuse poppy jaunt about the darkness of the Altamont disaster of 1969, complete with a cherub chorus -- delightfully strange. “Rolling Home To Someone You Love” and “Whatever, Man” are drenched in life lessons that were just what this 36-year-old man needed to hear. Thanks, Mr. Forbert.

Can't wait for this record.  Thanks for the thoughts on a true and fine singer-songwriter.

Well, I'm old enought to remember Steve's first record, Alive On Arrival, which formed the soundtrack for much of my late 70s life.  It was a fine record, and remains totally listenable.  I can hear the first track, Going' Down To Laurel, quite crisply, in my mind, more than 35 years later.

All his recordings have been fine, and he would have been a much bigger star had he gone along with the labels who wanted him to veer into pop.  His principled stand cost him dearly.

I thought Steve was from Meridian Mississippi and in fact garnered a Grammy nomination a few years back for his tribute to another Meridian native, Jimmie Rodgers.

Indeed he is.

One of the many New Dylans but he is his own man.

Will definitely look for this.
My all time favourite Forbert song is January 23 - 30, 1978 which has the line "Some say life is strange. Yeah but compared to what?" 

Just love the nostalgia of the going home song.