Steve Forbert has been recording for 30 years while trying to escape the “new Dylan” albatross hung around his neck by the press.
The truth is, while Dylan has hit a couple of fallow periods, he’s also hit altitudes Forbert never will reach. But, by keeping close to home stylistically, Forbert has carved out a remarkably consistent, if somewhat predictable, series of good to great albums.
Listen to the album opener, “Middle Age,” and you almost can sense a shrug of resignation from Forbert.
“Simply Spalding Gray” is an arty, synth-heavy tribute to the late, depressed raconteur that sounds like nothing Forbert’s done before. Also included are a downright Christian hymn, a good but unnecessary remake of his Seventies hit “Romeo’s Tune,” a tribute to oddly named New Jersey towns and about four other silly love songs.
“Strange Names and New Sensations” is a worthy addition to the Forbert catalogue, but not a world-beater.