For most of us, the last couple of years have been somewhat bleak and we music-lovers have missed our regular diet of live shows. At AUK, we’ve tried to ease the loss by posting intimate, exclusive recordings of artists performing, a link from their home to yours. Our occasional series of mini-gigs returns with Portland folk musician Eddie Berman, who has delivered two brilliant songs for you to enjoy. Both are taken from his brand new album ‘Broken English’, which is out today, 21st January 2022. It’s a beautiful thing to see these songs stripped back to just Berman’s soulful, intimate voice and his banjo or guitar. The first song, ‘Water in the Barrel’, features fabulous finger-picking on the banjo, while the second, ‘Broken English’, is all about the warmth of his strum and vocal. It’s great to see both instruments in use, here, as Berman tends to write on the banjo but perform and record on the guitar, resulting in a distinctive, engaging sound. His understated voice carries a deep sense of melancholy, sweet and delicate but tinged with sadness and a sensitivity to the loss and longing that characterise our lives.
The new record is full of songs you can imagine sung around a campfire, embers glowing beneath a starry sky. Although written before the pandemic, the album’s themes include isolation and its impact on relationships, technology and the the ties that bind us to communities and family. It’s almost as if Berman knew something was about to happen. He says of the title track for the new album: “When I wrote the song ‘Broken English’, I was thinking about how especially isolated, rootless, and untethered people had become, and that was back in 2019, a good six months before anyone had heard the term Covid. The past year and a half have put those feelings in hyperdrive. I think the song is also about distraction and self-obsession and the seeming commodification of absolutely everything. I never write songs like this as a condemnation of anyone; I can see these traits so clearly in myself. This song, and the whole album, is about me trying to square the circle of living a life somewhat connected to the world, to other people, and myself in such strange, atomised times.”
Berman has toured with the likes of Lee Ann Womack, Passenger, Laura Marling and Tyler Childers and his introspective, tuneful folk has earned him millions of streams over the last few years, stretching back to the 2016 EP ‘Blood & Rust’, which featured the fabulously-moody, achingly-beautiful cover of ‘Dancing in the Dark’, recorded with Laura Marling. As we reach the end of another week, absorb these gentle performances and sit back for some calm reflection. Enjoy.