Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Elmwood Park is very contradictory. It can be happy and sad, loud and soft, and, pretty and ugly. These songs are written right on the sleeve of songwriter and performer, Darrin Bradbury. I saw Darrin on June 25th opening for Ray Wylie Hubbard. Immediately, images of Todd Snider and John Prine came to mind. Those are the other two songwriters that can effectively add humor and still have the songs be profound. Well, add Darrin Bradbury to this short list.
Darrin also can use very big words and profanity in the same song and still have it turn out to be quote worthy. Along with Prine and Snider, Darrin is an expert story teller with an incredible ear and eye for detail. His stories are very descriptive and really etch a vivid picture. Another difficult feat is too tell a story in a song without sounding corny. One thing I would never call Darrin Bradbury is corny. He is a great at observation and is also a very sharp witted satirist.
The Almost Great Lakes (Track 4) is a song that immediately reeled me in. There is something about the melodies in this song that are so chilling, yet so lovely all at once. And again, Bradbury’s writing is so captivating that you will listen intently to hear the next phrase or chord. The time spent listening to this track goes very quickly. This song is expertly written and performed. My interpretation of this song is that sometimes reality does not always align with expectations. I can’t get enough of this song!
This album is also country as country gets. Take The Roadkill Song (Track 5), for instance. Rest assured that this song is not literally about roadkill. It has a much deeper meaning, even though Darrin explains in the song that there is no moral to this story, I am going to have to respectfully disagree. I am not even going to harbor a guess as to the true meaning. It sounds a little bit like ramblings while on a hallucinogen, although that is unconfirmed. This song is infectious as well.
So in closing, Darrin Bradbury is an amazing singer/songwriter with a wicked sense of humor. That is apparent all over Elmwood Park: A Slightly Melodic Audiobook (That’s a lot to write!). This album may be revered highly over time. It definitely has all of the elements. What I know now is that this is a must have for 2017.