Spins and Reviews | (Originally posted on 02.28.17)
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
Cindy Lee Berryhill | The Adventurist (Omnivore, 2017)
Is there a better investment in life than love? Is there a more prosperous road to travel, a more engaging choice of direction, than the bond between one person and another? Can we even make it to wherever we go in life without it?
Drawing inspiration and comfort from her marriage to the late, pioneering music journalist Paul Williams, Cindy Lee Berryhill has fashioned, in the form of her new album, The Adventurist, a deeply felt, melodic, invigorating song cycle looking back on and celebrating her time with the creator of Crawdaddy, the first, authoritative rock publication of record, as the future unfolds for her one day at a time, as each new step forward is informed by steps already taken.
Confessional songwriting labors heavy without well-reasoned perspective; Berryhill takes this conceit to new levels, baring all sides of her experience along the way. Perhaps this is no more evident than in this album’s heart-filled center, the heartbreakingly honest, emotionally melodic “Somebody’s Angel.” “The first time I kissed somebody new/I cried when I thought about you/And all the good times we had and the living we’d been through,” Berryhill sings. “Now I’m here for you forever or long as I am able/I gotta be somebody’s angel.”
The promise of something that initially seems rote emerging as something more is explored as a facet of the process of love in the lovely “Contemplating the Infinite (In a Kiss).” The seemingly obvious pronouncement is made: “A kiss is a kiss nothing more than this/It’s just a gate a pretty face/A puff of air, fragrant hair/It dissipates in the atmosphere.” But there may be, could possibly be, might hopefully be, more: “It sounded like fun/Like someone lucky was finally gonna get some/And didn’t life owe her one/She’d sell her soul for a song if it meant freedom.”
It is infinitely easier to confront the parallels between a listener’s life and an artist’s life expressed in song when there is infinite truth woven into the words and reflected in the music. In this album’s penultimate, folk-tinged, confessional, “An Affair of the Heart,” sadness trades places with sweet release amidst orchestrated, blissful melody: “As you fade into winter and I take my fall/I could miss the forever-chance to tell you it all/Like how you made me want to sing despite my leaving/And my freeways always closing down/You still reached me.”
And then, as this affair of the heart winds down within the parameters of this infinitely affecting song, Berryhill’s voice resonates with our hearts. “And if we exist outside of time/I’ll meet you there/Is love a gift or is it a crime/A sweet misery that we must bare,” she sings, pledging a forever connection. “But you can’t fight the feeling like a mountain on fire/Starts with a spark/Not a matter of reason/An affair of the heart.” The song’s lilting tail runs out with a smile on its face, a sweet song all its own, its pasture refined and confident.
The Adventurist, a remarkable, many-hued cycle of life, will grab hold of your heart as it summons your deepest emotions to the surface and affects you to your core. Albums like this come along only once or twice in a lifetime. The Adventurist is the right album for this right time, an album that will haunt you as it gives you hope for your future. It will stay with you, as it should, for the long haul.
Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Somebody’s Angel,” “Deep Sea Fishing,” “Gravity Falls,” “Horsepower,” “I Like Cats/You Like Dogs,” “Contemplating the Infinite (In a Kiss),” “The Heavy,” and “An Affair of the Heart”