Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains review – The remarkable return of David Berman

Thu, Jul 11, 2019, 05:00

   
 

Album:
Purple Mountains

Artist:
Purple Mountains

Label:
Drag City

Genre:
Alternative

He is hailed by some as one of the finest and most underrated songwriters of his generation, so David Berman’s sudden retirement from music in 2009 came as something of a surprise. The reasons are too myriad to condense into this review, but suffice it to say that they were both complex and valid.

Formerly known as the frontman and mainstay of Silver Jews, Berman has abandoned that moniker and reinvented himself as Purple Mountains.

Happily, his sardonic, self-deprecating wit and his aptitude for measured, Americana-tinged indie-rock remains unscathed. So, too, does his wondrous turn of phrase, be it lines such as “There’s days I wake up blushing, like I’m ashamed to be alive” or the vivid imagery conjured on the beautiful Snow is Falling in Manhattan (“Salts the stoop and scoops the cat in”).

Other songs address personal relationships: Nights That Won’t Happen the break-up of a marriage, I Loved Being My Mother’s Son a tender, affecting tribute.

At all times, Berman’s ruminative voice is a commanding force over scuffled indie, toe-tappy country pop and occasional Mariachi-style infusions of brass. It’s good to have him back.