Thursday, September 23, 2010
'Street Singin' Troubadour'
Michael Ubaldini “Street Singin’ Troubadour“ (Blackwater Records, 2008) -
Review- Americana U.K. Phil Edwards
8 out of 10 stars -10 being best.
Rick Rubin? Who needs him…
Although new to me, Ubaldini has been going a while. Three of his previous albums have been reviewed on this very site, including a compilation album ‘Empty Bottles and Broken Guitar Strings’.
Whilst not being afraid to record some of his previous work with a band, this album is simple; “a stripped down American folk rebel record”. Just him with an acoustic guitar and harmonica.
With no band backing him, Ubaldini needs to rely primarily on his voice and his lyrics. The guitar playing is fairly basic stuff that all singer songwriters can do, so he’s unlikely to win any awards for it, but he has an engaging style.
After the first five listens I was ready to dismiss this album as yet another singer songwriter who has plenty to say, but wasn’t very good at actually saying it. Then things changed. Like that friend you’ve known for years and really got along with, but slowly they grow in your affections and before you know it you’re in a relationship with them and have fallen hook, line and sinker stone in love with them. And it’s all the better for knowing them as individuals first and a lover second.
“Rock’n’roll rebel, poet, philosopher, hopeless romantic, storyteller, guitar slingin’ outlaw in black” have been used in the past to describe Ubaldini. And they’re all right. The Los Angeles Times described him as being “better than Springsteen at probing the national soul”, which is pushing it somewhat. C’mon!
"I've been doing lots of acoustic gigs. This is different from 'Acoustic Rumble'. I wanted to have lyrics that were not about finger pointing. I don't care about blue/red divisions," said Ubaldini. "I write from the point of being an outsider from all these trendy groups. It's straight," he said. "Like early records from Bob Dylan and the late (Rick Rubin-produced) ones from Johnny Cash. It's my answer to all the overproduced, over-compressed records."
And it is. Neil Diamond has tapped into Rubin for his last two albums after he wanted to go back to basics and he’s a better man for it. Ubaldini doesn’t need Rubin. With tracks like ‘Black Emerald Eyes’, ‘A New Set of Problems’, ‘Ballad of Father Patrick’, ‘Sad Empty Streets of Sunday’, ‘The Sound of the Age’ and ‘Mr Terrorist Man’ he’s more than capable of doing it for himself.