_

Mark Erelli

Washington Post (Delivered)

NO NEED TO read between the lines when singer-songwriter Mark Erelli vents on "Delivered," railing against politics as usual or the war in Iraq or the Bush adminstration's bungled response to Hurricane Katrina. The prolific New England-based tunesmith makes his case with clarity and conviction.

Even listeners who don't share Erelli's views might find it difficult to dismiss the quality of his songcraft or his ties to the likes of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. Take "Hope Dies Last," the album's opening track. It's not just a broadside aimed at "politicians pointing fingers like they always do." The song also concerns the unfairly distributed human costs of war.

Of course, Erelli isn't always preoccupied with headlines. "Man of the Family," a ballad about coming to grips with parenthood, is sentimental, sad and comforting by turns, while "Abraham" caps the album on a hopeful, spiritual note. Yet most of the tracks that stand out find Erelli trying to sort things out, one way or another, occasionally with some success. On "Once," a love song, he concludes: "The older I become I see it's all related/Pleasures they get more simple and troubles get more complicated."

Crisply produced by Zack Hickman and accented by a curious assortment of instruments (lots of guitars, banjo, bass clarinet, pump organ and toy piano, among others), "Delivered" delivers. --Mike Joyce

updated: 3 years ago