The American in Me

The American in Me, folkie Steve Forbert’s sixth album, should be called The Love Song of J. Alfred Sixpack: Nearly 15 years on from his cheerful and knowing debut, the happy-go-lucky cherub of 1978’s Alive on Arrival is now pushing middle age, and he feels the added years keenly. The heroes of Forbert’s current songs have no time for the finer things in life (”Responsibility”), have an unshakable sense of displacement (”Born Too Late”), and display feelings of inadequacy (”You Cannot Win ‘Em All”). Now, on one level, a lot of this is secondhand — received from Bruce Springsteen, Robert Bly’s men’s movement, and who knows who else. Sometimes you can see Forbert reach a little too far. (One hero is bugged that he has to carry car insurance. Commuting is hell.) But as always with Forbert, there’s a lot of lyrical charm — on ”Born Too Late,” Everyschmuck gets laughed at by a cigar-store Indian — and nearly every song features a bull’s-eye chorus. ”Responsibility” has an ominous rock grounding worthy of John Mellencamp at his best, and there’s a Fleetwood Mac-ish, jazzy lilt in the chorus to ”Baby, Don’t” that tops the record off nicely. All in all, this is a textured and welcome comeback. B

The American in Me
  • Music