John Bunzow
"Darkness And Light"

by Johanna J. Bodde


JOHN BUNZOW   -   "Darkness And Light"

Sideburn Records

A wrong date was mentioned in the newspaper. Otherwise I would have seen John Bunzow during a Portland, Oregon in-store last year. Yes, I still feel bad about it. A tape that I cherish for years already is called "Stories Of The Years". There's a clipping that belongs with it, a review full of praise from some American music magazine. Too bad, a few promos - that was all, then the label went bankrupt. But luckily there's Terry Currier, owner of unsurpassed recordstore Burnside Records, who released John's new album "Darkness And Light" on his small label Sideburn. And what an album it is... Roots-rock, a bit bluesy, a bit country. Distinctive voice, sometimes reminiscent of Buddy Miller's. Supreme guitarplayer, especially electric. Helping hand from, among others, Richard Bennett on the second guitar, Dan Dugmore (pedal steel), violinplayer Tammy Rogers, Allison Moorer who sings harmony, I'm just mentioning a few musicians from the line-up. And then the lyrics, pulled straight from harsh every day-life... The story of the long haul trucker, "I just didn't read the signs that lead to Desolation Road", or that of the man who just got fired: "After ten years not even a handshake, just the cold slap of corporate greed" ("I'm Just Tryin' To Get By"). Or the most realistic and touching story, about the sixteen year-old girl who runs away from home and drunken father, "For the longest time she thought she'd done something wrong, then one day she realized just how crazy he had gone", after which it still goes wrong, because: "Choices come easy, when they're down to none". I could continue for a while. Is everybody really asleep at those bigger labels? More power to Sideburn!
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, July 2003.