Bruce Unger is a singer/songwriter in an alt-folk vein who has just released a new CD called Blow i n. His email asking for a review arrived in my box with a very simple question: what am I doing wrong? Seems he’d just experienced a whole lot of nothing. No email replies, no reviews, just crickets.
And it got me thinking about all the music out there, all the musicians out there, all the artists out there that are making really good music and art. People that pour their souls into their music and want it to reach someone, somehow – but who get lost in the shuffle of swag. It’s discouraging and daunting to both the musician and to the reviewer. I am both, and empathize. I’m small potatoes, and the volume of stuff I get to review is high. I can only imagine the deluge of stuff that the big guns get. Sometimes it’s easier just to pretend it’s not there. Apologies to Bruce and to all the other very worthy musicians who have taken the time to shoot me an email. I’ll try to do better.
Bruce prefaces his music by saying: “If you like Britney Spears, or Madonna, then you are gonna HATE this album. On the other hand, if you have no time for them, you may really enjoy this. In fact I guarantee that you will. I will actually refund your purchase, but you will have to take payment in the form of damp firewood. It will burn well if you already have a raging inferno going. So your purchase is completely safe. “
Although I’ve always admired Madonna and can admit to wearing out her first CD back in the day, I do not hate Bruce’s music. Not at all, in fact. Enough is Enough brought to mind The Guess Who’s "No Time" and though that’s probably a very vague connection to most people, listen to the repetitive guitar lick and the 60s guitar tone. That, coupled with Unger’s strong vocals and some trippy psychedelic undertones, makes it a multi-layered winner.
Crooked Willow has a touch of Buffalo Springfield’s "Mr. Soul" and very effectively uses percussive elements, background choruses, and keyboard/strings. Broken Man is a more sparse musical treatment, featuring echoed vocals and a simple acoustic guitar. The vocals are heartfelt and suggest the intensity of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder at times. Gonna Be Hated by Her is a lovely traditional folk-sounding tune at the outset, which masks the dark lyrics which are to come - with Unger describing what his lover is going to do when he tells her they are through – however, the music stays pure and lovely throughout with him singing that he’d rather be hated by her, and loved by you. Nice Guys Never brings to mind the wry songs of Lyle Lovett, with Unger’s rich voice lamenting the fact that nice guys never get the girls. He sings: “You can have a dog named Killer or Jaws, but you can’t have a cat named Fluffy, because nice guys never get the girls…”
There are many more songs available on Bruce’s myspace and through digital outlets. All are multidimensional musical nuggets, with clever and slightly dark lyrics, beautiful guitar work and instrumentation.
Fans of Lyle Lovett, Brett Dennen, Bob Dylan, and Madonna will find a lot to enjoy here. Visit Bruce Unger on his myspace: http://www.myspace.com/bruceunger