Dan Bern

Fleeting Days

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With Fleeting Days, singer/songwriter Dan Bern seems to finally escape from the formidable influence of Bob Dylan on his songwriting. Instead, the 13 songs presented here take their cues more often from the likes of Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen (more the former than the later). Ultimately, though, Bern is his own man. The rampant surrealism of his previous albums is a bit toned down on Fleeting Days, though that's not a complaint. Some of the songs on Fleeting Days are quite lovely in their modesty, including the strange religious love ballad "Eva" and the epic-styled "Fly Away." His sense of humor is intact, though not quite as forced as it was before. Like the title cut of his contemporary Swastika EP, "Crow" is a singsongy rock tune with a solidly quirky central image. Likewise, "Graceland" begins with a fragment of the Paul Simon tune of the same name, before launching into a not always successful pastiche of Elvis-related numbers. Much of the album's sound is defined by the electric snapping rhythm guitar of Eben Grace, which roots the album firmly in Costello territory.

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