A fixture of the early-'60s folk revival, Eric Andersen's literate and romantic songs really dealt more with the delicate inner world of relationships than they did with any political issue of the day, and his range of focus hasn't really shifted much in his forty-plus year career. He was, in effect, an archetype for the introspective singer/songwriters who emerged in the '70s, and the deeply personal songs he spun out of his romantic relationships are models of aching sincerity. This set from Raven Records collects tracks recorded between 1969 and 1980, a span during which Andersen expanded his acoustic folk style to include trappings of country, pop and jazz, all without losing the literate romanticism of his early-'60s Vanguard Records material (Andersen revisits that period here with live versions of "Violets of Dawn," "Thirsty Boots" and a remake of "Close the Door Lightly"). Andersen isn't a rocker, by any means, and his songs run to the wistful and dreamy side of things, requiring close attention lest they blur into one another, but cuts like "Secrets" and "Time Run Like a Freight Train" are masterful love songs that resonate well beneath the surface of things. If Andersen's brand of romanticism wasn't so fundamentally optimistic and hopeful, which is very much a strength in his writing, he might well be considered a sort of American version of Nick Drake. That same sort of late-night/early-morning lonely reckoning is present in both of them, but Andersen continues to view love and relationships as essential salvations while Drake apparently shut himself away from that sort of hope and is no longer with us. For some the darkness is just darkness. For Andersen, however, the darkness means the light is soon to follow. It may be a corny philosophy at times, but it sure is refreshing.
AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett