“Singer” — album review by Phantom Tollbooth


Andru Bemis has very different career goals. He says he always wanted to be a hobo, but he found jumping off a train with three instruments and a box on CD ended up being a pretty good way to get himself arrested, so he did the next best thing-he bought 16,000 miles of train tickets and hits the rails. Is this guy a throwback or what? Interesting character.

Describe his music as folk or bluegrass-Bemis calls it po’folk. Arlo, Van Ronk, early Dylan weave in and out of his original material-but to pinpoint him is impossible. His songs are deceptively simple with an earthy, intimate feel.

The instrumental opener, “Kibbie,” has a distinct train sound to it-as do many of this songs-with a pushing, chugging rhythm driving us into Bemis’ wild array of characters like Ivah and Beulah. Quite inventive musically, he uses a sewing machine (a Singer) as a rhythm instrument.

“I’m Chasing the Moon” and “Pilgrim” sum up the overall lyrical feel of the album. Always on the road, always looking for someone or something else. There is an overall sadness to the songs-kind of a lost-little-boy sensibility.

Only on the spiritual “Do Lord” do you get sense of hope, however he sings is as a question.

“Do Lord, do Lord, oh do you remember me?”

A ’30’s cowboy, ’60’s hippie or someone’s kid brother, Andru Bemis speaks to us with a familiarity that is addictive. — Bob Felberg; The Phantom Tollbooth