CD Review – Steve Forbert “Over With You”
“I‘m not Lady Gaga,” Steve Forbert confesses, exposing one of rock’s best kept secrets in a press release for his latest, Over With You. But even if he donned a blonde wig and a fat suit, as soon as he opened his mouth, nobody would mistake the artist formerly known as Little Stevie Orbit for Gaga. Since ’79, when “Romeo’s Tune” on his sophomore release Jackrabbit Slim barely missed the top ten, coming in at number 11 on the top forty chart, the crackly voiced folk rocker’s vaguely Springsteen-ish presentations have earned him a niche as a revered, if not highly visible singer-songwriter, nominated for a Grammy for’04’s Jimmy Rodgers tribute, Any Old Time.
Forbert’s voice and material haven’t changed much over the span of his fourteen album career. He still sounds like he’s singing through a cellophane filter, setting his quirky little tone poems to musical scores that fall somewhere between orchestral folk and quavery, almost-rock.
Forbert’s theme throughout his latest release is relationships, either ones already gone bad or those heading that way quickly. No mere narrator, Forbert’s emotional involvement is evident, his voice cracking with emotion in his impassioned pleadings to a collection of former and soon to be ex-beloveds. He starts out with a swagger on “All I Need To Do,” declaring that the solution to this lovesickness episode is “just to find someone just like you- all I need to change is the 7 letters of your name.” But his swagger turns to stagger as he breaks down, confessing that he worshiped the ground his lover dumped him on, with the melody threatening to break out into Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” any second.
Even they don’t share a melody, “Metal Marie” also has ties to “Maggie May,” as Forbert reveals to his audience and his lover that “I’m 33 and you’re over 50 /you’re gonna miss me when I go away.”
One of Forbert’s songwriting strengths is his ability to dish out retribution without sounding overtly mean. He couches his sharp-tongued little barbs carefully in pretty, melodic sheaths that slide in easily so you don’t release you’re cut until you start to feel faint from blood loss. It ain’t flashy, but it cuts deep. You’ll want to handle this one carefully, but often.