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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Rick Berlin

Paper Airplane

Review by Larry Toering

With a fairly large cast of musicians, Rick Berlin delivers a fine mix of tempos within an American story telling inspired effort. Many folk and rock and roll influences on this disc help define Berlin’s originality. It all blends together well for something I do like very much. It's folksy, it's artsy, it's sassy and subtle, all in one enjoyable flying paper machine.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
If I Wasn't Such A Bum

This song is about dreams of what it would be like if we had whatever we wanted. The lyrics are made up of humorously running through a choice list of things with a nice bouncy beat and whistling to accent things before it gets a bit aggressive, or carried away as Berlin sings. It’s a great way to set the tone and kick things off.

Drivin' Grandpa Home
Banjo and conversational lyrics keep things interesting. A more bouncy beat and sassy background vocals help everything along with the humor kept intact. This is fun, and piano adds a nice touch. I like everything about it - great stuff.
Real Slow (For Townes)
This is a narrative tear jerker in storytelling fashion, with a bit of harp and a glorious ending, It makes for a very haunting ode to Townes - excellent!
Hard 2 Be Liked
This is a percussive track with a sort of Mick Jagger vocal appeal, reggae style. It’s another excellent tune effortlessly keeps the listener hooked.
I Wish I Could Talk To My Dad
Things change as this a darker sort of ballad, a real brooding number with a spooky vibe. Lovely piano and heavy bass lead into a soaring Harp toward the end of this track with an almost epic approach. It is very touching and one of several highlights.
My Friend
Things turn a little more uplifting here, but are still a bit down laden and on the abstract side. This is another cut with a bittersweet taste to go with the change-up of the previous one.
Trombone opens this massively Tom Waits influenced track. It is a swashbuckling number in the same sort of “vagrant” style of Waits. It sounds like the Toy Piano is used by Berlin here to a complimenting degree.
Bermuda Triangle
Groovy and captivating from the start, this is great stuff. A bit of slide guitar gives it the swagger it begs for. By this time, one either likes it or they don't. I do, and once again the Harp plays its part in all of the satisfaction.
Walkin' In The Mood
A fantastic Harp intro, and a bit more undeniable Waits influence gives us a song that finds Berlin singing about how "it's nice." Berlin adds, "a smile is more important, than what your T-shirt says..."
The Kiss
A wet blooded kiss from days of past gets spewed out into the open on this track, as close to a love song as things get on this disc. Fine piano and guitar sparring really spice things up as it builds into another very cool ending bit.
Sean Penn on Charlie Rose
Spunky harp noises and a jarred narration of the program make for a humorous subtle romp. There are more Mick Jagger influenced vocals, almost "Angie" sounding at times. Things get really aggressive in all the subtlety before a church organ build up with a cutting vocal. This is really a hypnotic track, one of the best on this release.
Rear View Mirror
A melancholy intro leads to the spoken title in the first verse. There are very effective bells that sound like a xylophone but probably aren't. This is a track that is way too short but very interesting, It’s more good stuff in the form of a brief track about falling in love in the rear view mirror.
Paper Airplane
Another warbling effect gets this last number going, which is the title track of the disc. It’s another well sung track that serves to sum things up properly on this very enjoyable adult contemporary oriented and mood friendly CD. The string heavy ending is yet another fine one, perhaps saving the best outro for last.
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