The Phantom Tollbooth
October '98 Pick of the Month

Live at the Bitter End
Artist:  Burlap to Cashmere
Label:  A&M Records
Time:  5 tracks/23:32 minutes

At Cornerstone 1998, I saw one and a half songs of Burlap to Cashmere's set. My bottom was sore for days as I repeatedly kicked myself for missing the rest of it.  In an attempt to remedy the situation, I recently acquired their EP, Live at the Bitter End. I'm even more sore now. Their blend of classic singer-songwriter songs with Greek, Middle Eastern and other Mediterranean musical flavorings is immediate, dramatic, encouraging, and emotionally complete. The Burlap to Cashmere sound is reminiscent of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's early work combined with Cat Stevens and others passed through a whole host of world music filters.

The resulting live album is an urgent blend  of accessible hits (after hits after hits)with a poignant, forthright Christian message. Acoustic guitars, synthesized keyboards, intricate  harmonies, and a busload of percussion instruments accompany Steven  Delopoulous's warm, warbly tremolo in songs that take an honest look at issues of life and faith. Whatever you call it, it works. Trust me, you've got to hear it for yourself. Your goose bumps will bear witness.

It is no wonder audiences from industry types at GMA week to grungy Cornerstone Festival attendees to their fellow New Yorkers have been driven to their feet with wild cheers after every song. Frankly, this band is so good that they are practically a phenomenon onto themselves. Count me in to be one of the first in line to pick up their Squint Records produced debut whenever it comes out. I have to--I doubt my backside can take much more beating. (Rumors have it being released anywhere from this October to January of next year.)

In the meantime, this five song live EP will serve as a sort of appetizer. It may hold me over until the meal arrives, but it definitely leaves me wanting more.  The sooner the better.

By Steven Stuart Baldwin (8/29/98)