Eric Andersen

You Can't Relive the Past

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This umpteenth collection from veteran folkie Andersen is his most diverse and adventurous in years. Pairing Andersen with Lou Reed on the affecting title cut here may seem like a strange idea, but it makes sense when you hear it. There are also four excellent, recently unearthed tracks that Andersen co-wrote with the late Townes Van Zandt, and a couple of strong original ballads, the best of which -- the moody "Magdalena" about a close friend who died in a car crash -- may alone be worth the price of admission. Less successful are some of the tracks Andersen recorded with Delta blues musicians. The backup is excellent but as Andersen admits in the liner notes, he is not a blues artist, and these tracks fail to take full advantage of his strengths. They also seem tossed off, and indeed they were. Andersen says that since it took him eight years to record his last album, he decided to make this one "quickly and simply." He recorded the blues tracks in two days, and they may leave you wondering whether there might have been some good middle ground between two days and eight years. Overall, though, this is terrific stuff. Particularly if you're already a fan, you won't be disappointed with the lion's share of it.

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