Okay, so I mostly do CD reviews of local, south Florida musicians, but one day I get an email from a Jersey guy asking me to review his CD. So, I say sure and he sends it to me in the mail. When the CD arrives, I’m busy so I just do a quick, fifteen second preview of each song, then tag it as gothic country (yes, there is such a thing) similar to Mark Sinnis’ cemetery-western genre. But about a week later I finally had time to sit down and thoroughly listen to all the tracks and I was blown away. It ain’t gothic, country, cemetery or western. No, it’s more like Johnnie Cash and Tom Waits ran head-on into each other on the highway doing 90 only to have one, whole, new person emerge. And that person is Briz (a.k.a. David Conard – www.brizsongs.com).
Now Briz’s CD of all original songs is called HARD TIMES, and just by the cover artwork you can tell this ain’t no Carpenter’s walk through the sunny side of life. The front cover sleeve displays a rainy day, steering-wheel view out a wiperless window staring down an endless tree-lined country road, while the back sleeve shows a hardened figure (Briz?) standing amongst giant truck tires discarded in the woods. No, it may not be a pretty ride, but any reflection of the economically destroyed, hard-time world we live in today is by its very nature going to be a bit uneasy. Yet Briz can take all that pain and still turn it into a heartfelt song of beauty and recognition.
The CD starts off with BROKE DOWN TRUCK, a memoriam to a four wheeled family heirloom. Track two, I DON’T CARE, is a devotional to the better, supportive qualities of family in tough times. This is followed by LIFE OF CRIME where even death might be a welcome respite for those caught up in the transgressions of economic hardships. Then comes HARD TIMES, the CD’s title track which is a testimonial and tribute to perseverance when everything else fails. Finally, CLEAN BREAK ends the first half of this compilation with an almost Meat Loaf (singer Michael Lee Aday) like yearning for freedom from life’s every day drudgery.
The CD’s back half starts off with MADE IN AMERICA, a dark side of the coin tribute to Bruce Springstein’s Born In The USA (1984, Columbia Records). Things turn a bit cheerier with track seven, HOBO WINE which is made from a little bit of yours and a little bit of mine. Track eight, HEART BE STILL, is about the heart’s longing not to be longing, which is then followed by DON’T TEMPT ME FRIEND where longing for the bottle replaces the longing of the heart. And it all ends with NOT THAT KIND OF MAN, where even desperate times can’t justify indefensible acts.
So it might be raining and the wipers might be broke, but just put down those rose-tinged glasses and take a good look at the world around you. Then turn on Briz’s HARD TIMES and know that there’s life still to live, even in hard times.