Online since August 2002

Great talent in need of a great song

Reviewed August 2009

Las Vegas
Las Vegas
By Berkley Hart

Self-released: 2009

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

A throwback celebration of the glories of harmonized vocals, San Diego's Jeff Berkley and Calman Hart are such gifted performers that they instantly elevate any song they touch. Soaring vocals in the model of Seals and Crofts or Loggins and Messina combine with virtuosic playing on guitar to create that elusive sense of magic that most bands never manage.

And yet, there's also the nagging feeling that the duo have yet to produce a song that's the equal of their talents. On their latest CD, every track is lovely and listenable, but the only song likely to get stuck in your head for days on end is their relaxed cover of the Bob Marley song "Stir It Up" – although it owes far more to Johnny Nash's hit version.

Their own songs are pleasant enough, but not the kind of instantly immortal tunes that could push them onto the national stage. There's no "Summer Breeze" to be found here, no "Danny's Song." Their title song, "Las Vegas," is notable both for its gentle melody and its pure honky-tonk arrangement, breaking from their usual folk-rock approach.

Not that an album full of gorgeous playing and singing is to be sneezed at – it's just that listening to the very pure magic to be found here leaves one feeling that these two men could be on the verge of something even greater, with material to match their ability as performers.

Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).

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