Been listening this morning to one of my favorite CDs, The Lights of Brigantine by George Wirth.
Perhaps not everybody’s cup of tea, if what you want is, say, high-energy bluegrass, but for fans of the singer/songwriter genre, this disc, to me, is a gem.
Wirth’s writing has a very strong sense of place… a lifelong New Jersey resident, he paints some crisp and vivid images of the Jersey Shore… if you’ve ever been “down the shore” in the winter, or walked through the streets of Asbury Park before the urban renovations started taking place, you’ll feel the colors and textures here. (Head further north, to Rhode Island, and you’ll get the same feeling from another favorite of mine, Marc Douglas Berardo.) The disc was recorded at home—George will share details with you if you’re interested—it’s a nice clean sound, sparse and stark in a good way; the focus is George’s clean fingerpicked guitar and his wonderful charismatic voice. It’s a lighter, acoustic sound, not over produced, and it’s all these songs need. To me, it’s humbling and inspiring at the same time.
I first heard about George a few years ago when I was sitting around a dinner table with Red Molly, before a Brew show. “Do you want to try Dancing Fool?,” asked Laurie to her bandmates. “I don’t know that one,” says I. Abbie Gardner said, “it’s a George Wirth song. Do you know him?” I confessed, no, I did not. And she smiled, and in words I remember pretty clearly, said “You know, I think you’d REALLY like George’s music. If I described it, it would be a lot like yours.”
Ordered it the next day through CDbaby (I think..) and listened to it non-stop for about a week. I don’t know, maybe it’s my short story level mentality, but there aren’t a lot of discs I buy these days that I regularly listen to the whole way through. Brigantine is one of those, though. For me, it’s a “no-skipper.”
Check him out if you have the chance! He’s one of Abbie Gardner and Rod Picott’s favorite songwriters… that should tell you something right there.