Jonathan Byrd,
This is the New That
(Waterbug, 2006)

Jonathan Byrd opens his CD with an attack on George W. Bush called "Cocaine Cowboy" and, while I'm as open to an all-out assault on the Bush administration as anyone, listening to Byrd's take I began to wonder if he's attacking Bush or satirizing the "Bringing It All Back Home" era Bob Dylan. He tosses off rhymes in a rush, powering the song along at a pick-breaking tempo so that in the end you're listening more to the performance than the song.

And, to quote the late Kurt Vonnegut, so it goes. "Jesus Was a Bootlegger" loses its way in a welter of internal rhymes and abstract statements. Byrd has a love for the abstract; he writes and sings the big statements and loves to sing about mysterious women and the cold and hungry night. As you listen, you're thinking early Dylan isn't the only big influence; this guy loves the Asbury Park "Born to Run" era Bruce Springsteen, also.

Unfortunately, Byrd hasn't quite worked his way beyond his influences yet.

by Michael Scott Cain
16 June 2007

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