Ice-T has often said that if you're going to write convincingly about a particular environment, you need some firsthand knowledge. A privileged white kid from Beverly Hills, CA, has no business writing in the first person about life in the projects, and a New Yorker who has never been west of Hoboken shouldn't sing about his life on a dude ranch in the Arizona desert. Paul Eugene Beck's environment is the rural areas of the Midwest, and when Of the Forest is playing, you know darn well that the folk-rocker has firsthand knowledge of the things he sings and writes about. Beck doesn't pretend to be from Philadelphia or Baltimore; he was born in South Dakota and has also lived in rural areas of Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana (his current home). The earthy singer/songwriter sticks to the things he knows, which is why he is convincing and very believable on songs about wolves ("Wolf Song," "A Kind of Dance"), hunters ("Hunting"), and rivers ("Take a Walk With Me"). The beauty of the wilderness is a prominent theme on this CD, and the people Beck writes about (such as the two loners who become romantically involved in "Please") always sound like they're from small towns. Over the years, folk-rock has thrived in urban environments (the streets of Greenwich Village did a lot to inspire Bob Dylan) as well as small towns. And on Of the Forest, it's clear that Paul Eugene Beck is a charming example of a rural storyteller.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson