Letters to the Portland editor, January 9, 2009
I have to respectfully take issue with (and, frankly, take a bit of offense at) parts of Sam Pfeifle's review of Eric Bettencourt's Fine Old World. If Bettencourt is self-indulgent, I have to conclude that I enjoy that sort of thing ... and I say that after listening to the album probably a good two dozen times. So far.
It's nice to read that Pfeifle agrees that Bettencourt's delivery is "sweet-voiced" and his production and songwriting exceptional, but who are these people to whom he's compared? Jim James? Kelly Jones? I had to google Delaney Bramlett to figure out that reference. Sure, it's nice to learn something, but it seems like name-dropping obscure musicians is a bit self-indulgent on Pfeifle's part. Plus, it's a distraction to a casual music fan who was surprisingly and pleasantly impressed by the excellence of this local album.
One last thing: did he listen to the whole Fine Old World? The second half of the album is explosive and impressive, especially "Uniform." To write a review without its inclusion is to cheat the Phoenix's would-be listeners. I'm kind of sorry for them.
I'll be at Bettencourt's CD release party on January 10. In contrast to Pfeifle, who doubts that Bettencourt can front a solo act, I look forward to seeing him do it live and well.
SAM PFEIFLE RESPONDS I'm psyched to find anyone so passionate about a local album. That's awesome. Sometimes I worry I'm the only one who listens to every record I review at least five times. As for obscure musicians, this is something I always struggle with, the balance between the best comparison and the one that most people will recognize, but, for the record, I consider Jim James, lead singer of My Morning Jacket, to be one of the biggest rock stars in the world right now. And Delaney Bramlett is a legend of rock history who taught George Harrison how to play slide guitar, wrote "Superstar" (recorded most recently by Usher), and was big enough that Eric Clapton was his sideman after his time in Cream. If they're obscure, I don't know the definition of that word.
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