Sherman Ewing – Single Room Saloon
2011, Okindalia Records
Sherman Ewing walked through hell and lives to tell the tale. Tell it he does on his latest album, Single Room Saloon. The Columbia University grad, who once played in a band called Sherman And The Bureaucrats with John “Jojo” Hermann of Widespread Panic, grew up in British boarding schools during the birth of the punk movement. His songwriting evokes some of that attitude infused into a blend of pop, rock and country. With an all-star band at his back (members have worked with Bob Dylan, Spin Doctors, Hank Williams, Jr., Phish, Keith Richards and Widespread Panic), Ewing opens an emotional vein for all the world to hear.
Single Room Saloon opens with “Heaven Waits”, an intriguing commentary on materialism and the corruption it breeds. Ewing points to a light in the distance in a delicious blend of country guitars and sophisticated rock n roll. “Single Room Saloon” has a distinctly urgent feel; imagine the Beatles playing in an Americana style. The result is an edgy sound that will stay with you. “Grey Skies Blue” is catchy, but its Ewing’s guitar work that most stands out. It’s a tune about that one person who makes even the darkest day bright, and brings to mind some of the better works of Wilco. “Flatlands” is a dreamy Americana blend that’s as pleasing to the ear as it is pointed in message.
“Walk On” is all about making your way in the world and finding your place. It’s a delicious bit of soulful, buzzy rock and roll. Things slow down for a couple of songs, but Ewing gets back on track with “Bye Bye America”. Ewing laments those who would stand by and watch America’s decline as long as they get what they feel is coming to them. Ewing keeps up the social commentary on “The Mission”, delving into the growing gap between rich and poor and the inability of the latter to keep up. Ewing closes with “Marilyn”, an inconspicuous final track that plays like an epilogic vector.
Sherman Ewing shows a distinctive ability in the crafting of songs on Single Room Saloon. The material presented here is, for the most part, cogently written and melodically sound. Ewing’s special talent is in the musical details, which he wraps around the melodic core in layers both distinctive and refined. Not all of the songs here work on all levels, but there’s more than enough here to make Single Room Saloon worth your time.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)