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Home Again Review
by Joe Viglione[-]
Though an essential songwriter/singer behind the scenes in the music and film industry, John Batdorf deserves equal time on the radio and Home Again provides solid evidence for that argument. A reunion of sorts with '70s partner Mark Rodney, the title track is a remake of a Batdorf tune from their second release as a duo, 1972's eponymous Batdorf & Rodney. As with Ian Hunter, Buzzy Linhart, the group Epitaph, and a notable list of other veteran artists, the music they are generating in the new millennium is in many ways superior to their previous efforts, and better than what radio and what's left of the industry is attempting to force on the masses. Mark Rodney writes the liner notes here inside this elegant package with over a dozen photo images of the players and he mentions the sound of Crosby, Stills & Nash. Yes, the title track could fit nicely into that trio's repertoire, though Batdorf takes this disc through his own personal journey. "Me and You" is one of seven co-writes with Michael McLean and it would be a nugget on any Paul McCartney album. Vocally sounding like a cross between Jon Anderson from Yes and Seals & Crofts (both of them; and yes, Batdorf & Rodney have been compared to that duo in the past), Batdorf generates a striking album with help from his colleagues, a master craftsman delivering the goods without resting on past laurels or going through the motions. Though there is nothing groundbreaking here, that isn't the objective; it is refreshing to hear an artist do what he does best and do it without concern for Top 40 airplay or commercial success, though this album is oh-so-very radio-friendly. Drifting through folk/pop and the blues of "Solitude," Batdorf communicates his ideas superbly, backing vocals cascading in a spacious production that is minimal yet still big. "I Don't Always Win" evokes that minstrel-in-the-gallery-feel Ian Anderson spoke of, the voices matching the guitar sounds with amazing effect. The ten titles clock in at under 45 minutes but it is great playing and well-considered production that make this a very special project. The final track, "Where Are You Now?," is an old Batdorf & Rodney number which previously only showed up on their Live at McCabes release. Perhaps collaborations with Jonathan Richman and other quirky originals could take this music to an even different path and audience in the future but for right now, the sounds on Home Again are warm, eloquent and very enjoyable.