Dan Bern | New American Language

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Messenger Records

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United States - New Mexico

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Rock: Folk Rock Folk: Political Moods: Featuring Guitar
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New American Language

by Dan Bern

"He veers from comedy to anger, conjectures to shaggy-dog stories; he takes sidelong approaches to theology, science fiction, consumer culture, art, love and baseball." - New York Times
Genre: Rock: Folk Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Sweetness
3:53 album only
2. New American Language
5:12 album only
3. Alaska Highway
4:05 album only
4. God Said No
5:31 album only
5. Turning Over
5:10 album only
6. Black Tornado
5:24 album only
7. Albuquerque Lullaby
3:54 album only
8. Tape
3:37 album only
9. Honeydoo!
2:14 album only
10. Toledo
5:22 album only
11. Rice
5:30 album only
12. Thanksgiving Day Parade
10:27 album only


Album Notes
Pick any term from the big bag of good adjectives — "witty," "irreverent," "comical," "insightful" — and solder it together with any term from the big bag of good adverbs — "frighteningly," "monumentally," "thrillingly," "deeply" — and you have the pretty good beginnings for an accurate description of the music of DAN BERN, without a doubt one of the most frighteningly witty, thrillingly irreverent, deeply comical, and monumentally insightful songwriters to strap on a guitar since rock music came of age and found itself thrust into its role as popular voice for American culture. And Dan's songs have always been steeped in the nation's pop culture, what with references in past songs to icons like Marilyn Monroe, Mother Teresa, Charles Manson and Tiger Woods, among others. If there is one thing his music has done above all others, it has shot to the heart of what it means to be a part of this hectic, fame-debased, information-overloaded world that we have created for ourselves. Dan's music allows us to see things that we have always seen, to feel and know things that we have always felt and known.

James Thurber on hallucinogens, Elvis Costello minus the spectacles, Jack Kerouac in a van spinning out hundreds of perfect songs rather than bursts of Zen jazz on the road, Dan never ceases to challenge through his music even as he makes it appealing and full of joy. He's part Dada (purposefully subverting expectation), part troubadour (spitting out clever, street-smart riffs on life), part stand-up comedian (helping us to laugh at our own comedy of errors) and part punk (lyrically impudent and unfailingly authentic). But he is all human and his songs rarely fail to touch the heart and the brain with equal impact, taking the time in the interim to stop at every point in between.

Dan placed innumerable great songs on his fine initial four albums, racking up critical hosannas virtually across the board while developing a rabid fan following on the back of an exhilarating, boundary-erasing live show, but New American Language may be his first truly incomparable and faultless recording. Leaving his folk roots choking in the dust storm kicked up by a powerful five-piece rock band, Dan uses the album to sort through the consciousness shift that accompanied the turn of centuries, to carve out an uncompromising path into the soul of the new American experience while also reaching out to encompass more of the world than he ever has before, all with an immaculate production and an instrumental depth that matches the deep reach of Dan's musings and observations. Stretching back and forth across the nation as if it were a canvas, he uses the full spectrum of America's soil to paint a lushly detailed, often heartbreaking portrait, taking in the highly commercialized Broadway of the "Thanksgiving Day Parade" with three-dimensional empathy, trying to hide out from the encroachments of life in the heartland, heading west to the burnt and broken landscapes of New Mexico, and hitting the "Alaska Highway," where he runs into Leonardo DiCaprio and Eminem, Britney Spears and Keith Richards. He crosses genre lines from tender folk-rock to full-on sonic outbursts to the rootsy bluegrass of "Honeydoo!," and he delves into emotional terrain, whether that of the Japanese protagonist of "Rice" or the Mafia or rednecks, that few songwriters have the ability let alone the temerity to tap with such understanding. New American Language imbues life among the earth-toned cathedrals of "Toledo" (Spain) and "a Budweiser, Budgetel, Bukowski kind of night" with the same tone of hope and beautifully resolved sense of acceptance. This is one language that everyone owes it to themselves to become fluent in.



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