Monday, June 22, 2015

Album Review: David Kauffman and Eric Caboor - Songs From Suicide Bridge

David Kauffman and Eric Caboor were a pair of songwriters who tried to make a name for themselves in California in the early eighties to no avail.  So legend has It they put their most depressing songs on an album and called it Songs From Suicide Bridge.  On its release in 1984 it made no impact.  Listening to it now, it certainly would not have fitted in with the highly produced sound of the time.  Opener Kiss Another Day Goodbye sets the tone, some slightly rough sounding vocals (Kauffman) over some plaintive, downbeat guitar chords with occasional steel guitar.  It sounds like it transcends eras and could have been released any time in the last forty to fifty years.  The guitar work is complex without being flashy on songs like Neighborhood Blues with Caboor's mention of sending letters off to "some lonesome loser who'll hear what I've got to say".  Caboor appears the more hopeful of the two.  A rolling guitar figure introduces Kauffman's bleak, despairing Life Without Love with stark lyrics of "life without love is destroying my mind".  It has all the appeal of American Music Club's darkest moments.

The approach of alternating Kauffman and Caboor's songs works to prevent the album becoming too samey, yet it remains a cohesive listen.  Kauffman has the more tormented songs - the late night piano of Life And Times On The Beach just escapes being a complete wallow by morphing into an REM-style strum, climaxing with the line "what I need to end it all is right... within my reach", complete with dramatic pause.  Gulp.  Caboor doesn't necessarily lighten things up, the lengthy Backwoods is a brilliantly haunted bluesy strum where he sounds every bit as desperate as his partner in the mire.  Their joint effort, Midnight Willie is a wonderfully empathetic song about a downtrodden down-and-out.

Later, Where's The Understanding is a little too close to Bob Dylan's It's Alright Ma for comfort.  However they end the album on what seems like a hopeful note on One More Day.  Well, hopeful in a Nick Drake, Bryter Later kind of way.  You can almost hear the sun peeking through the guitar picking.  The album is a timeless collection of dark, torch songs which, if you like that sort of thing, you ought to get your hands on it.