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Published: 2003/03/25
by Pat Buzby

Fleeting Days – Dan Bern

Messenger Records 012
It’s a pleasure for this intrepid reporter to find Dan Bern once again
folk-rocking out of my mailbox, a year and a half after first making his
acquaintance with New American Language. The promo copy carries the
title The Eva Record, more intriguing to my mind than Fleeting
Days, the stickered final title with no apparent relation to the songs.
Perhaps he could have called it Another Side of Dan Bern, for his
concerns here seem more introspective than on New American Language.
Less protest, more relationships. At various points herein, he finds joy
with "Eva" and "Jane," realizes that "I Need You" (which one?) after an
unsuccessful escape to Key West, and concludes by asking if his lover is
willing to follow her "Soul." In between come detours into
late-60’s-Beatles moodiness ("Closer to You"), spitting 1978-Costello punk
("Crow"), one out-and-out jokeathon ("Graceland") and a token Dylanesque
rant ("Fly Away") — although I doubt Dylan will ever allude to the perils
of "checking my e-mail too much."
As on New American Language, Bern’s facility is a non-stop pleasure.
Once again, the only downsides are that he seems too even-tempered to evoke
the mystery of Dylan or Jeff Tweedy, and too varied to create a unified
album-length mood.
No need to get hung up on that for too long, though — who can resist a
quick-witted, palatable-voiced singer/songwriter with a sharp band? Check
Bern out on the road (I hope to someday) and pick this up if you’re in a
merch-table mood.

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