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Monday, August 29, 2011

David Serby - Poor Man's Poem

David Serby - Poor Man's Poem
2011, David Serby

David Serby spends his days as a Union Steward, representing workers and their interests in negotiations with employers.  When the working day is over, however, Serby picks up his guitar.  After spending three albums exploring 1960's style honky-tonk, Serby decided a different musical direction was in order.  Serby chose well, exploring a blend of Appalachia, folk and traditional country that fits perfectly to his story-teller's style.  With co-producer and guitarist Ed Tree (Spencer Davis Group), Serby has crafted his finest, most cogent work to date in the form of Poor Man's Poem

Serby's songwriting is rife with deep political thoughts, but the delivery is more that of a country bard.  Serby digs into stories steeped in U.S. history as a way of illuminating issues he sees as relevant to the present day.  The somewhat expansive country/folk arrangements he builds around his stories are subtle in nature and traditional in sound, coming across like the sort of personal folklore told on back porches throughout Appalachia rather than treatises on modern society.  Serby scores big with tunes like "Lay Down My Colt", a song that urges striving for peace, and the allegorical "Virginia Rail", which explores the life of a worker trying to make a living when large corporations control everything from where he works to the food he buys.

"Watch Over Her Baby" is a heartbreaker; the story of a young lady forced to give up her baby in the hope that he might have a better life, and her anguish watching from an alley as he sits upon steps where rich folks walk, hoping he'll be picked up and taken in.  "Wild West Show" explores the changes that have occurred over time for the First Nations of America.  "Evil Men" might just be the pick of the litter, however, comparing the rough and tumble behavior of the lawless on America's frontiers with that of those in boardrooms and state houses today. 

All of this is delivered in Serby's singularly plaintive voice.  He lulls you in with his delivery, and fills your head with images of times gone by while gently prodding you to think about today.  Poor Man's Poem walks the stilted streets of post-modern America trod by Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, with a finesse and classic Americana/folk style that is compelling.  David Serby is the real deal.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about David Serby at or  Poor Man’s Poem is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via iTunes.

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