Armed and Humorous

Going to Water
Eddy Lawrence

By David Lilly

Can you take a singer seriously if he bears a vocal resemblance to Weird Al Yankovic? Eddy Lawrence has a very full life, including one as a singing and songwriting troubadour.

Here he plays folk, folk-rock, country-rock, hard rock and even a waltz. Some of his songs seem pretty serious, but he is known as a bit of a satirist with the ability to create characters and slip into their skins with apparent ease. Lawrence is of European and Cherokee ancestry. He doesn't ignore the former and wear the latter on his sleeve, but he does indulge in the world of Native Americana on this disc of catchy, but non-commercial music.

This album gets off to a provocative start when he sings, "You take a little old-world / You take a little new / You mix it all together / In a violent stew," from "Five Dollar Indian." In the infectious-but-pessimistic "Turtles," the protagonist claims to believe in extremely little, if anything. He also offers interesting observations about animals, with lines like, "Turtles are skeptical / Bears are laid back / If you challenge a wolf / A wolf will attack / Bears are diplomats / Wolves are true-blue / Turtles are skeptical / And I am too."

Another keen observation in "Your Own Frontier" states, "The frontier is everywhere / You gotta make your own frontier." Meanwhile, "El Barzon" is an angry waltz about subservience. It's very pretty if you ignore the lyrics (and that's not saying they're bad, just angry).

The title song is one of the catchiest here, resembling Bob Dylan's "Everything is Broken." When was the last time you heard a song about water? The fast rocker, "The Most Universal Solvent in the World" is about just that. Good song for a brisk walk. "Radio Bingo" is a cool musical relative of Pink Floyd's "San Tropez."

And talk about being versatile - in "Catching a Dream" Lawrence sounds like something from an Arlo Guthrie album, and "Gravity" starts out with a Los Straitjackets guitar sound, then segues into a hard-rocking tune a la Pearl Jam. This song includes the clever line, "I know you love me / Cause you bring me down," which is not a complaint by the song's protagonist - he's grateful to his mate because, as he clarifies, "You keep my feet / On solid ground."

I don't want to grind these comparisons into the ground (too late, right?) but "Birdtown" would be a great song for Paul Simon to cover.

When Eddy Lawrence is not playing music, he indulges in such activities as gardening, fishing, hunting, maple sugaring and tending to his chickens. Gee, no criminal record? Isn't that a prerequisite for pop music stardom now? He's also a guitar teacher and lives with his wife in a cabin in upstate New York - a very interesting guy. Going to Water is Lawrence's 7th release and it could well spur new listeners into checking out some of his other records.