Joe Macdonald's Bridge and River Songs is a chance for the artist to return to performing. After taking a decade or more off from performing, the songwriter started off to simply write a song as a gift. It appears this highly personal album grew into a gift for the audience.
The emotions behind each song are authentic and organic. The vocals are unaltered and do not sound like they are overly computerized which is a nice change. The country undertones are simple yet entertaining.
“Cavendish Girl” starts off the set as a simple love song of sorts. It is easy to picture the type of girl every young man longs for, that one girl that just makes life easy. This is the lifetime love he sings about and I have to wonder where she is. The vocals combine nicely with the guitar for a classic country feel.
“Bridge Song” is a bit more upbeat with some interesting musical rhythms. It is still a highly personal song and almost too personal. You can feel the sadness and the disconnect the artist feels. The bridge to safety, to a far off place where you just do not turn back. The jump into the water seems like a sad metaphor for that moment where you are forced to make a choice that can't be undone.
“Coins in a Cup” was by far my favorite song on the album, but it is also one of the more heartbreaking of the set. It is a reminder about how fast things change and life takes a turn for the worse. It puts a face to the plight of the homeless. It reminds us that each of those silent beggars once had something beyond that cup with a few coins. Life was different before they became a ghost in the daylight.
“Time to Come Home” is a gentle break from the sad undertones of the album. This song stands alone as a voice of hope for a new life. This was the start of the album but it also could easily stand simply alone. This is a warm tribute to a rebirth of a family.
I enjoyed the questions this album brought up for me. It hit some pretty sad subjects but also made me think a bit outside of the box. I enjoyed the set and look forward to more of the hard hitting songs that are sung in such a simple way they are enjoyable
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