Michael Jerling,
Little Movies
(Fool's Hill, 2001)

This new album by New York's Michael Jerling follows up his 1997 release, In Another Life. Little Movies is a very well-titled album because it does come across as a series of featurette movies or a CD of short stories. The titles and the illustrations in the insert booklet, often featuring movie house marquees, add greatly to this feeling and to the album overall.

"Old Henry's House" is a very good example of the type of song featured here. In simple but beautiful lyrics he paints us a picture of the old man, his past and the effect of his death -- or lack of effect when an old person dies. "When old Henry died, no one was there. He gave up the ghost in his easy chair."

"Dirty Little War" evokes a thousand espionage movies. "Sweet Soul Music" is a masterpiece of writing. This song is intriguing in its content and seems to require a certain knowledge of recent U.S. history to get the full impact. "It's another night in Memphis, 1968. ... There's blood out on the pavement and the sky's on fire." He switches from this to some very witty lyrics for the next track, "In the Middle Ages." He encapsulates a period of history in a few lines: "You could pray in a cathedral, sleep in a hut, live like a monk and die of the plague. If you need a vacation, go on crusade."

"Love at a Certain Age" will date the listener or rather reveal that he or she is of a certain age if they appreciate the wit and the reality. This is not about young love but it is about real love and what it means. Television gets a lighthearted bashing in "The Weather Channel." How often have you looked at a photo album and been overcome by all those frozen moments past? Jerling brings the memory alive in "These Old Photographs."

This is a very versatile CD that showcases a man of great talent who deserves a much wider audience.

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 1 March 2003