David Bromberg: Use Me
Guitarist and fiddler David Bromberg is a legend in roots music circles, a genuine guitar virtuoso and session ace whose quirky mystique has been burnished by periodic withdrawals from the public eye (currently, his full-time job is as a dealer and repairman of vintage violins). He released no music between 1990 and 2007, at which point he emerged briefly from his recording hiatus with the acoustic folk-blues effort Try Me One More Time. Four years later he has come out with a much different project. The aptly titled Use Me is the result of an unusual collaborative effort: Bromberg contacted some of his favorite songwriters (Levon Helm, Tim O'Brien, Keb' Mo', Los Lobos, Dr. John, and John Hiatt, among others) and asked them to write songs for him. The result is a completely entertaining and at times thrilling program of material in a wide variety of styles: "Old Neighborhood" finds Bromberg collaborating with Widespread Panic in a soul-funk vein; "Bring It with You When You Come" is a charming excursion into jug-band skiffle with Helm on drums; "The Long Goodbye" is a tender waltz with Los Lobos. Singing has never been Bromberg's strong suit, but over the years he has learned to make the most of his limited vocal instrument -- notice how he uses his low range and his natural quaver to endearing effect on the old Brook Benton weeper "It's Just a Matter of Time" (on which he's assisted by Linda Ronstadt). It's too bad he didn't try a bit harder on the Hiatt composition "Ride on Out a Ways," which he speaks more than sings, but the song's soulful chord progression provides real melodic interest all on its own. There's a pervasive sense of mutual affection and musical respect throughout this album that makes it a pleasure to listen to even in those moments when its other elements don't quite come together perfectly.
-- Rick Anderson, All-Music Guide
David Bromberg - Use Me - 2011 - Red House Records