Bruce Piephoff

Hobo Nickel

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Prolific North Carolina songwriter and performer Bruce Piephoff comes up with a winner here by keeping things really simple. Scott Manring is credited with some contributions on acoustic guitar, dobro, and National steel, but this almost sounds like a solo album. The rhythmically solid strumming hand of Piephoff keeps things going as if he was an old-time sea dog heading out on another voyage. "Waiting" is the first track, the jazzy chords announcing themselves as a stylistic musical interest or perhaps even technical improvement that will also ring, like doorbells, in subsequent tracks as well. "Waiting" goes on for five and a half minutes, one descriptive passage after another based on the song's title, and an experience that will most likely separate this artist's fans from his foes about halfway through. It is not a song that is aiming at some great wisdom, but is charming almost beyond description. Listeners who find it repetitive, on the other hand, or don't like Piephoff's style of folk music, will simply be "Waiting" for it to end. Such a negative reaction many find no balm to soothe it as the music unfolds; Piephoff has put his best foot forward with this opener and does not have a substitute identity tucked into his guitar case. The CD goes along pretty much in the same style throughout, with a break for a recited poem here and there. The songs move all over in terms of subject matter, so perhaps listeners who don't like "Waiting" may be more enthusiastic about the saga of a Greensboro baseball player or "Better for My Eyes Than Carrots," one of Piephoff's romantically engaging numbers. A series of the tracks are recorded live and are placed near the end to create a dramatic effect on the pacing. "Nobody" and "Out on the Road" are excellent, the latter song deserving to be placed alongside classics on this subject such as "Time Between" and "Strange Feeling."

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