John Stewart's exquisite songs are powerful even in a mostly acoustic format, but a full electric band reinforces their elegance. Such is the case with 1992's Bullets in the Hour Glass. The former Kingston Trio member composed yet another consistent set of songs brought to life by his resonant vocals, insightful lyrics and fine backing musicians, particularly bass guitarist Dave Batti, saxophonist Chris Mostert, and Stewart's wife, vocalist Buffy Ford Stewart. "Irresistible Targets" is smooth and melodic, and "American Nights" is a subtle synthesis of pop, folk, and rock. Lyrically, both songs shine a light on America's crumbling society from the 1960s onward. Guest vocalist Roseanne Cash joins Stewart on "Women." The gentle country-pop of "The River" is boosted by Mostert's saxophone accents. "Dealing With the Night" has clever lyrics which generate vivid mental pictures; watery guitar lines and Mostert's sax fills punctuate the song. Despite the serious nature of much of Stewart's work, he has a sly, dry sense of humor too, which he readily displays on stage; "Bad Rats" is the best Stewart song capturing these traits. Stewart's folk edge is most evident on "The Man Who Would Be King," which features vocals by Peter, Paul & Mary's Noel Paul Stookey.
Bullets in the Hour Glass Review
by Bret Adams