Ed Englerth Hope Dream Sigh as reviewed in Phantom TollboothThoughtful and lightweight, bluesy and jazzy, polished and ragged, this is one mixed bag that is full of heart.

Independent (http://www.bluesidedownstudios.com)
Time: 17 tracks /67 Minutes

Before this disc arrived through my letterbox, I went to Englerth’s site and saw his video of the track “How Do I Love?”

I was faced with someone who invaded the personal space of the camera while looking like a mate of Shaggy’s from Scooby-Doo. Yet the questions in this simple list-song kept me thinking:
    “How do I love the preacher? How do I love the politician?
     How do I love the billionaire? How do I love without condition?
     How do I love the jaded? How do I love the innocent young?
     How do I love the intellectual? How do I love the ones I’d rather shun?”

Once the disc arrived, this track both was and was not representative of the collection.

This song does show Englerth’s thoughtful side. It may be simple, but you could talk about the questions for hours. To a lesser extent, a song about what we blame things on, “Chalk It Up” does the same. “Where We Were” is another highlight. Englerth’s singing and the honeyed guitar work both come good here and the track exudes a rich, Richard Hawley gravitas. It is about looking at some old photographs and reflecting on how life doesn’t always see out dreams coming to fruition. The rockier longest track, “Empty Pockets” is a bluesy piece with some tasty slide guitar for the last two minutes.

Yet I found other songs quite unengaging. Seventeen tracks is good value in terms of time, but it does mean sifting through some filler material to get to the gems. Tracks like “Trouble” and “I Declare” are inconsequential enough to bore the listener out of catching Englerth’s thoughtfulness.

Sometimes the good and bad are snuggled up together within a track. The title to “Where Words Fail” is apposite, as the song is one of several that display his tendency to write prose and shoehorn it into a generic three chord tune, yet it features some smart soprano sax work.

Englerth (or ‘En Enlerth’, as i-Tunes calls him) has a fairly disparate range of styles, which helps on a disc this long. At the start, I thought he was a blues artist, with several songs betraying those roots. Elsewhere he sings croonier material. “Haunted” is drum & bass jazz, with horns in the spotlight and no guitar at all. Yet on some tracks, the guitar work is the highlight. “I Do I Don’t” – one of a couple of humorous pieces – has a touch of ska and more of that jazzy soprano sax.

When reviewing Englerth’s last disc, my colleague Bert Seraco noted, “Englerth, visually and conceptually, seems to have stepped right out of the Summer of Love….There’s room for improvement, mostly in the production and vocals, but certainly Mr. Ed Englerth is walking to his own drum-beat.” The production may have improved a touch and the biggest improvement here would be to delete four songs completely and move any tasty instrumental bits to other songs; but essentially, that all still stands.

Download: How Do I Love?  Where We Were


Derek Walker

{module Possibly Related Articles - Also search our Legacy Site}