Quotes

 

“Eberhardt is as welcome as iced tea in August.”
—People

 

"Eberhardt is better than ever, Steve McQueening his way into your heart at about ninety-eight miles an hour, kicking ass with fresh insight and new ways to lament old yearnings.”
—Philly Rock Guide

 

“One of the most talented musicians on the solo acoustic circuit... full of well-crafted songs and rich, emotional vocals.”
—Seattle Post Intelligencer

 

“In a field of sensitive, new-age guys, Eberhardt digs deeper into life’s complexities and discovers much more compelling things to celebrate.”
—The Boston Phoenix

 

“Eberhardt sings with passion and with wit…what makes his brand so rare is the self-assurance and poise he brings to his nearly flawless show.”
—The New York Post

 

“Up and down the line, as a writer, guitarist, performer, and vocalist, Eberhardt is the equal of any singer-songwriter in contemporary pop. With unequaled directness and with a stark, raw presentation, he carves out miniature masterpieces, giving voice to life’s complexities and ambiguities.”
—Berkshire Eagle

 

“Melding pop, rock,and folk styles into a rich melange, Eberhardt fits gracefully and solidly in the singer/songwriter niche.”
—Seattle Weekly

 

“Eberhardt approaches the guitar with stylistic eloquence, with the hooks, licks and grooves that could easily rank him among those who are singularly known as guitar virtuosos.”
—Taconic Newspapers

 

"Eberhardt is a superb singer, with a vast credible range of emotions, and a soulfulness that draws from rock and pop, but also from the best folk ballad styles."
- The Boston Globe

 

The Long Road (****)- "Eberhardt has complicated emotions and he articulates them with stunning clarity" 
- The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

“If life were fair and stardom based on raw talent, Cliff Eberhardt would be a household name.”
—The Washington Times

 

On his sixth album, Eberhardt, who calls the Pioneer Valley home, couches his ballads in rootsy, folksy arrangements that emphasize his bluesy guitar playing and his soulful, Ray Charles-like vocals. Eberhardt's melodies, however, are as sophisticated as ever -- he is the missing link between Paul McCartney and Cole Porter. 
- Seth Rogovey

 

"Cliff Eberhardt voted one of the top 100 Folk Artists of the last 20 years" 
WUMB Radio - Best of 2002, 2003,2004

 

"Eberhardt is one of the most original songsmiths currently on tour, a highly intelligent and articulate artist whose penetrating and profound lyrics are sometimes overshadowed by his extraordinary guitar playing. Upon close listening, the Philadelphia-born singer's gift for the English language is abundantly clear. The words that tumble from his mouth are framed by a raspy yet deeply elegant voice" 
- Folk Music Society of Huntington New York

 

The High Above And The Down Below

 

"In another age, Mr. Eberhardt would have found his niche on Tin Pan Alley or writing for Broadway shows. His songs display the highest level of craftsmanship, his guitar playing is superb and his singing deeply emotional."
- The Washington Times 
 
"On The High Above and The Down Below he delivers his best album yet....Cliff Eberhardt has delivered an adult masterwork worthy of your full attention."
- Vintage Guitar 
 
"CLIFF EBERHARDT A near-disastrous car accident sidelined this veteran folksy singer/songwriter, but the resulting recovery time only sharpened his already impressive skills. Even the title of his first new album in five years, The High Above and the Down Below, references a sense of mortality typically felt by those who experience life-altering events. A jazz-trio backing adds fresh musical elasticity and a heightened sense of carpe diem hones his dramatic yet warm vocal and lyrical touch.
- Creative Loafing 
 
Back At The Wheel 
 

It's been five years since Cliff Eberhardt last delivered the goods. That's the longest span of time between any of his, now, seven solo releases. That hiatus was in part exacerbated by Eberhardt's near-death car accident in 2002 in which he sustained significant back injuries that required two back surgeries and months of intensive physical therapy. Eberhardt's liner notes relate that Eric Peltoniemi produced the roller coaster titled The High Above And The Down Below and that Peltoniemi selected the recording studio and the support musicians. A trio, those support players were Rich Dworsky, the keyboard wizard from Prairie Home Companion's Guy's All-Star Shoe Band; bassist Gordy Johnson (Maynard Ferguson, Doc Severinsen, Paul Winter Consort); and thirtysomething J.T. Bates (Michel Portal), who has been playing drums since the age of seven. Of American-Finnish extraction, you may recall that during 1997 Red House Records issued Eric Peltoniemi's solo album Songs O' Sad Laughter, while these days one of the caps Peltonemi wears is emblazoned "Vice President of Production, Red House Records."

In his liner notes Eberhardt recalls that the decision, from the outset, was to record the album live and towards the close adds, "This is the recording that I always wanted to make." Eberhardt launches The High Above And The Down Below with the lyrically edgy album title track and therein urges the listener to live life to the full while he/she can and certainly before it's time to go "Down the River Styx, all abandon ship." Dworsky pumps out chunky chords on a Hammond B3 organ and Eberhardt growls his way through the foregoing lyric while concurrently and assertively plucking his acoustic guitar. Melodically sticking with the Blues genre, in term of subject matter "Missing You" is a ballad filled with memories of love lost. Elsewhere on this disc Eberhardt leavens his all-original tunes with a soupcon of Soul or a pinch of Pop. As for his lyrics, their focus in general fluctuates from portraits of male/female passion to a travelling musician's other home, the road. "It's Home Everywhere I Go" embraces both those elements.

At the outset of "The Next Big Thing" the narrator declares that he has the "Heart of a lion" and goes on to reflect on the fleeting nature of fame (and, for that matter, affairs of the heart). "This ain't forever, it's just a fling/I'm gonna wait right here for the next big thing." I could imagine listening to the melancholic "The Right Words" late at night in some dark and smoky piano bar. Okay, preferably sans the smoke. For starters Dworksy's piano imbues the melody with an American Songbook feel, a hint of Randy Newman even, as Eberhardt embraces the final scene in a love affair - "So say goodbye/C'est la vie/Say why'd you grow so, tired of me." While precipitation features prominently in the title "After The Rain Falls," the song is the shortest cut on the album, the lyric proceeds to paint a positive snapshot of the aftermath of "rain" for mankind.

"Assembly Line" comprises the "when I'm at work/when I'm at home" reflections, respectively negative and positive, of a blue-collar worker - "Nothing has changed on this crazy assembly line/It's a job for a fool/I repeat my days and I'd go insane/If it weren't for someone like you." "Dug Your Own Grave" finds the lonely, lovelorn narrator in a melancholic mood - "Can you call back again/When I'm feeling alright" - while "Let This Whole Thing Burn" acquaints us with a rather devil-may-care attitude to love and life. Johnson's fretless electric bass opens the ballad "New Is What's Come Over You," in which the still-smitten-but-lovelorn narrator reflects "Oh how she has changed." Optimism concerning the future is articulated by the narrator in "I'm All Right," while the listener is privy to the other side of that coin in the album closer "Goodbye Again" - "Is it such a great expectation to be able to predict the blues."

Praise be, with a touch of the Blues, Eberhardt's back at the wheel.
- Arthur Wood is a founding editor of FolkWax

All Music Review

Cliff Eberhardt may have come up on the same '80s East Coast singer/songwriter scene as Shawn ColvinLucy KaplanskyJohn Gorka, et al., but even from the beginning he had rock & roll -- and even pop -- aspirations. His early albums found him leaning toward Springsteen-esque heartland rock and almost John Waite-ish balladry as much as the folkish approach of his aforementioned peers, and his rough-edged voice and hook-centric songwriting made it all work. The further into his career he gets, however, the more he concentrates on spare, acoustic-based settings and slow, soulful ballads. Call it "maturity," "evolution," or "back to basics," the important thing is that he can pull it off a hell of a lot more convincingly than some straight-up rocker for whom the acoustic troubadour mode is an unprecedented step. On this, the eighth album of a recording career that began in 1990, the fiftysomething songwriter furthers the organic, as-close-to-live-as-possible approach of his preceding release, The High Above and the Down Below, sounding completely at ease in this mode. Sometimes, as on "Have a Little Heart" and a remake of "The Long Road," the title track from his '90 debut album, Eberhardt lays into a big, bold pop melody that wouldn't sound out of place being belted out by an American Idol contestant (that's not a pejorative statement). But for the most part, his gritty, soul-soaked voice leans comfortably into more low-key constructions. Most of these songs have the feel of hard-earned wisdom from a man who has run life's emotional gauntlet and emerged with not just some trenchant, humbly offered observations, but the knowledge that the best way to put them across is a soft sell.