Chuck Brodsky,
Tulips for Lunch
(Waterbug, 2006)

On his new CD, Chuck Brodsky relies primarily on story-songs, which pretty much means that the song is about as interesting as the story. "The Curse of the Billy Goat" tells the story of "Billy Goat" Bill Sianis, who brought a live goat to a Cubs game, was ejected from the park and placed the famous curse on the team. Brodsky carries the story from 1945 to 2003. The song aims for a lighthearted cute quality but comes across, to this listener, at least, as pretty pointless.

"A Toast to the Woman in the Holler" tells about Catherine, who wanted a flute but her mother couldn't afford to buy her one. When Christmas comes along, Catherine, in despair because she knows she isn't going to get a flute, takes to her bed but, fortunately, the old woman in the holler, whom everyone thinks is a witch, hears about Catherine's dilemma and comes through with a flute. Catherine's life is made. And my mind is wandering.

The description of these two songs gets at the major problem with Tulips for Lunch, which is the writing. It simply doesn't go anywhere. The two songs mentioned have no real resolutions: the curse goes on and Catherine's story violates one of the most important rules of storytelling -- the protagonist must solve her own problem. Brodsky gives us a song about a girl who cries while other people solve her problem for her.

Most of the rest of the material is on this same level. On the positive side, Brodsky's voice is pleasant and the playing, consisting mostly of Brodsky's guitar and multi-instrumentalist producer J.P. Cormier, frames the songs well. But the CD fails on the basic songwriting level.

by Michael Scott Cain
Rambles.NET
16 December 2006

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