A feeling of authenticity lies at the heart of everything that David Bromberg has ever recorded. Whether it’s blues, R&B, country, bluegrass, rock, or Celtic music, the Philadelphia-born former student of Reverend Gary Davis has made everything sound real. With his latest outing, Use Me, Bromberg returns to his first love as an ex-session player, using his unique gifts to bring other people’s musical vision to life. Though each tune is handed over to a different musician or band and producer, Bromberg’s straight-from-the-gut persona and masterful guitar picking bring cohesiveness to the collection.
Kicking off with a blues-shuffling, B-3 organ and horn-driven Bromberg original, “Tongue,” featuring Levon Helm on drums and produced by Larry Campbell, the CD goes on to include collaborations with John Hiatt (“Ride On Out A Ways”), Tim O’Brien (“Blue Is Falling”), Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack (“You Don’t Wanna Make Me Mad’), and Vince Gill (“Lookout Mountain Girl”). An extremely soulful rendition of Brook Benton’s “It’s Just A Matter Of Time,” produced by Linda Ronstadt, features backup harmonies by Ronstadt; Laurie Lewis; and Bromberg’s wife, Nancy Jacobson (of The Angel Band). A cover of Gus Cannon’s jug band classic, “Bring It With You When You Come” (aka “Wild About Your Loving”), arranged by Helm and produced by Campbell, connects the CD to early musical roots, while a rendition of Keb’ Mo’s bluesy condemnation of the Earth’s junky-like dependency on oil, “Diggin’ In The Deep Blue Sea.” Los Lobos add their accordion-driven, Chicano sound to David Hidalgo’s waltz, “The Long Goodbye,” while guitarist Jimmy Herring and Widespread Panic soak the reminiscent “Old Neighborhood” in jam band funk.
—Craig Harris (Chicopee, MA)