Steve Forbert’s new album ‘Magic Tree,’ recorded in Meridian (his birthplace in Mississippi), Nashville, New York, New Jersey and Virginia, is a collection of his own songs and the music loses nothing in its quality of production despite the country wide recording venues. Throughout the album his folk roots shine clear, as does his song writing ability honed over his forty years in the music industry.
The twelve tracks on this album are taken from demos and written by Forbert with an acknowledgment to Robert Johnstone on track eleven, ‘Only You.’ There are two versions of the title track, ‘The Magic Tree’ which will undoubtedly lead to arguments about which is the better: the polished production of version 1 or the bare bones version 2, which is my personal preference, lending itself to the way Forbert probably intended it to sound when writing it. The remaining tracks cover his loves found and lost and his slightly wheezy voice carries the emotion in songs ‘Tryna Let it Go’ and ‘Looking At the River In The Rain’ which is surprisingly catchy despite it theme of lost love.
Not all of the album is so downbeat; there are tracks that remain very lively, such as ‘Carolina Blue Sky Blues’ which should get you toe tapping as you listen. Not all of the songs hit the mark though. ‘Movin’ Through America’ sounds as if it’s the original demo recording, featuring Forbert vocals and guitar alone. The final track ‘The Music of The Night’ should not be confused with any song from a musical, being an accomplished tribute to a musician leaving the big city and returning to his past – great track but not my favourite.
‘Only You (And Nobody Else)’ is the standout track; it captures a lively lyric with “it’s cold and it’s raining outside” being his tribute to Robert Johnstone’s ‘Come Into My Kitchen,’ a classic historic blues hit.
Overall a good album and with Forbert playing a few gigs in the UK in January and February next year, the opportunity to hear him play live should not be missed.