...To This Day

Robert Burke Warren

Jackpot Music, 2000

http://www.robertburkewarren.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/06/2000

Robert Burke Warren must be thinking that I hated his work. You see, a few months ago, he asked if I'd be willing to give his debut CD, ...to this day, a review here on "The Daily Vault". Unfortunately, time and the crush of daily mail kept pushing his disc back on the list - and every time I did listen to it, I kept thinking that I was missing something crucial.

So now, three months after he sent it, he must be thinking that I didn't want to put him through a bad review. Well, Robert - and I know you're reading, 'cause you keep asking me what I thought of the disc - that ain't gonna happen. There are some weaknesses on ...to this day, but overall Warren creates a musical tone that is both different and pleasant to the senses.

Part folkie, part Tom Petty and part Lou Reed, Warren dares to break through both stylistic limits of folk rock and Southern life through his music, taking on the ghosts of his ancestors as well as of those he's loved and let go throughout his life. It's sometimes a difficult listen - I've listened to the disc about 10 times, and there are still portions I get bogged down in - but if you're willing to put in the time and energy, it's a rewarding listen.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

When Warren takes on the Lou Reed persona, as he does on "Milledgeville," things don't always work to his advantage, and he comes off sounding more smug than I think he intended the character to be. Fortunately for Warren, he doesn't go into this vein of songwriting and performance often, and the slip is easily forgiven.

Religion is an important part of Warren's songwriting, and two songs that deal with the subject back-to-back, "I Want Her Faith" and "Radio Church," are strong efforts. "I Want Her Faith" is a powerful song that proves that even in the worst of situations, someone can always believe that the good in things is just around the corner - something that the singer might not quite believe, but wants the power to share in. "Radio Church" is either a backhanded slap at religious broadcasts or belief in them, I haven't quite decided yet. Also worth mention here is "Falling Into Grace," a song that doesn't necessarily deal with religion outright, but marks the beginning of the strongest portion of ...to this day.

The first four songs on this disc are the most difficult to get through; "Dark Angel Eyes" and "Milledgeville" seem to set you up to expect the rest of the album to fall in similar lines. Maybe that's why "Ruby Red" feels out of place here - it's otherwise a great song that might have been better served if it had been positioned elsewhere on the disc.

"Josephus Cries" isn't an easy song to get through, but it's worth the effort as it tells the story of a man in the post-Civil War South who is having difficulty getting used to having to honor the memories of his fallen comrades while watching daily life try and deal with the once-hated North. (The information that Warren provides on this track over on his website is especially helpful.)

Once you get past the first four songs, though, ...to this day takes off like a rocket. Tracks like "Tomboygirl" (a charming tale about falling in love with a lesbian, in Warren's own words), "Blue Impala" and "Give Me My Love" all suggest that Warren is poised to be a major player in this genre - all the while carving his own unique path musically. Closing the disc with "Jacksong," a lullaby to Warren's son, is the perfect ending to this album.

Granted, listeners might not be willing to put such an effort into a disc like ...to this day - screw it, that's their loss. Warren needs to tighten things up a little bit (mostly in the positioning of songs), but if this disc is a portent of things to come, let's all look forward to future days and future releases.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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