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CD REVIEW: Erik Balkey - Sanctuary Road
By Jane Eamon - 01/27/2006 - 12:02 PM EST

Artist: Erik Balkey
Album: Sanctuary Road
CD Review: Wow, what a lot of songs on Erik Balkey’s new CD, Sanctuary Road. There are 10 songs, then two songs recorded live at WUMB Radio in Boston, then four more recorded live at Kerrville’s Folk Festival 2005 complete with talking in between. Whew! And I’ve no doubt Balkey has a lot more up his sleeve.

Erik has been on the road since January 2002. According to his website, he keeps a post office box in Philadelphia while he travels the country with guitar and notebook as well as paintbrushes and rollers. He picks up interior house painting jobs as he goes to sustain his travels. So it’s not surprising that he bills himself as a travelling painter and songwriter.

With a voice like Ben Harper, Balkey tells stories of his travels – often bittersweet tales of life lived. He does a lovely version of Dave Carter’s song, Winter When She Goes and Dylan’s, To Make You Feel My Love. One original song stood out for me, Someone To Call. And it may have been the song chosen by Kerrville as a live version of the song is also included. It starts with Balkey singing a cappella and has a familiar ring to the tune.

Big beef – no lyrics. Sending your CD to a reviewer who writes for a songwriting magazine without lyrics makes it hard to review. I would have liked to see what Balkey was saying. It was hard to understand his words sometimes and that just makes my job more difficult.

Overall, I would say Balkey is a good songwriter. He writes well, with good strong images and tuneful melodies. His voice is soft and soothing, maybe too much so. After several songs, I was bored. I wanted him to mix it up. Show me different sides to your style, stretch the genre, give me some flavor, change the guitar playing style, let me hear your chops. Take chances with the writing.

Balkey was chosen as a winner in the Kerrville New Folk 2005 and selected for a Top-12 DIY feature in Jan 2006 Performing Songwriter Magazine.

For more information about Erik Balkey, visit his website at www.erikbalkey.com or conact Hudson Harding Music at hudsonhardingmusic@yahoo.com.



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