BurlapToCashmere_cvr-hi90Great lyrics, tight playing, the distinctive vocals: it's the whole souvlaki! Burlap To Cashmere is back!

Burlap To Cashmere (self-titled)
Artist:Burlap To cashmere
Length: 11 tracks / 37:05

After an absence of more than a decade, Burlap To Cashmere, the critically acclaimed folk-rock /electric/acoustic band that effectively merged ethnic, urban and pop influences to create their own unique musical signature, is back. The self-titled project slated to release on July 19, has a 'here they are again, for the very first time' feeling about it. Back again are the unmistakable vocals, the Mediterranean rhythms, the tight, impeccable instrumentation, the sometimes esoteric, but always intriguing lyrics.... yet there's a new maturity about these Brooklyn, NY artists. The post 9/11 version is less frantic and more reflective – still intense, but more introspective.

Drawing from a multitude of influences ranging from family ethnicity to pop culture, the self-titled collection of songs, while never imitative, is musically seasoned by admiration for Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Van Morrison, The Band, and certainly Cat Stevens (although in the case of Stevens, it's mostly due to the uncanny vocal similarity in the timbre of singer/guitarist/songwriter Steven Delopoulos' voice). The resulting combination of all of the things that make Burlap To Cashmere tick is a timeless musical style that relies on its own artistic integrity rather than the current pop sound du jour.

Singer/songwriter Steven Delopoulos, guitarist John Philippidis and drummer Theodore Pagano still remain the core of the performing and recording unit, preserving the BtC sound and continuing the musical legacy with integrity and style. Mitchell Froom (Elvis Costello, Suzanne Vega, Los Lobos, Paul McCartney) produces the project with restraint and taste, allowing the band to create an unaffected human sound.

Basically an acoustic band (even though electric bass, guitar and keyboards are sparingly used,), don't make the mistake of categorizing Burlap To Cashmere as folk or country – in fact, they are closer to a hybrid of Greek folk music mixed with pop and a bit of acoustic jazz, and only come close to country here on "Live in a Van." There's even an occasional hint of the Hot Club (if Django had been Greek) in the passionate acoustic guitar work - the entrance and short solo on "Orchestral Love Song" being a good example.

From the toughness of "Build a Wall," which reminds me of the way The Alarm used acoustic guitars to a strong rock effect, to the elegant beauty of "Love Reclaims the Atmosphere," (a track reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel's "April Come She Will," that actually eclipses that song for elegance, melody and stunning two-part harmony), this project shows the band to be multi-faceted and well-eqiped to deliver a variety of styles. Burlap To Cashmere creates smart, memorable, lasting, melodic songs – the kind that linger with you long after the CD has been put back into its jacket – and that's really what this is all about: good songs.

Covering a variety of life-issues in the lyrics, there's a poetry to Delopoulos' words that elevates the songs beyond the typical banality of contemporary pop. Gritty and elegant at the same time, the songs reflect every day life but also contain Biblical allusions for those 'with an ear to hear' such things – this is especially true in the album's closing track – the Van Morrison-esque, "The Other Country."

Burlap To Cashmere is indeed back, contributing a welcome diversion from the all-too-generic sounds of the pop mainstream: intelligent, well-written, well performed songs for the discerning, thoughtful listener. It's good to have the boys from Brooklyn in action again.

-Bert Saraco