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Music Review: David Bromberg – Use Me

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David Bromberg has been a part of the American music scene since his debut in the mid-1960s as part of the Greenwich Village folk scene. Since the release of his 1971 self-titled debut album, he has gone on to issue several dozen albums. In his spare time he’s provided session guitar work for such artists as Ringo Starr, Carly Simon, Willie Nelson, The Eagles, Bob Dylan, and many more.

Bromberg and his wife Nancy are now settled in Wilmington, Delaware, where they run a violin sales and repair shop. Now and then he ventures forth to tour or record. His 2007 release, Try Me One More Time, was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Traditional Folk Album category. His new album, Use Me, will be released in July.

The concept for his new release began when he was in the studio with John Hiatt. Bromberg wondered if he might impose upon him to write a song for his new album. This led to the idea of then asking a number of friends to each write a song for him. Some offered compositions and others contributed in the way of producing or performing with him.

For the album Hiatt penned “Ride On Out A Ways,” which was recorded live in the studio and featured he and Bromberg sharing lead-guitar duties. Bromberg also traveled to his old friend Levon Helm’s studio in Woodstock, New York, to cut two tracks. At the time Helm was recovering from surgery and not allowed to sing, so he limited himself to playing his drums and doing a little arranging. They first recorded Bromberg’s only original composition, “Tongue,” a sprawling song with brass and some fine guitar work and vocals by David. They then moved on to a modernization of the old jug band song, “Bring It With You When You Come.”

A number of Bromberg’s other friends also responded to his call. Dr. John penned “You Don’t Wanna Make Me Mad,” which is a piece of New Orleans funk on which Bromberg’s slide guitar and Dr. John’s piano trade leads. One of my favorite tracks is the old blues tune, “Diggin’ In The Deep Blue Sea,” with Keb’ Mo’ producing and providing some electric guitar work.

Country music makes an appearance as well with the Vince Gill and Gary Clark penned tune, “Lookout Mountain Girl.” Gill assumes the lead-guitar load and adds some signature mandolin work as well. I’m also a fan of the Los Lobos contribution, “The Long Goodbye.”

David Bromberg’s idea of appealing to his friends for help proved to be inspirational. He has a created a diverse and entertaining piece of work that cuts across a lot of styles. Use Me is an interesting piece of work that will bear repeated listens.

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