John Eberly built a solid reputation for himself as frontman for The Mumbles during the 1980s. The band was bent on rock 'n' roll, art, and creating some of the mostly finely crafted songs possible. Eberly continues the latter tradition with his latest outing,
Retox. Originally titled Songs For M, the 14 song collection features a healthy dose of tunes penned for Eberly's longtime pals John and Martina McBride. The hitch, of course, is that while there's an occasional country inflection here and there, neither Retox nor the songs that comprise the album as a whole are country tunes. What can be heard is a series of unadorned compositions, pure songs that could receive further ornamentation but stand alone with acoustic guitars, Eberly's voice and the occasional whisper of an organ, drums or even a saxophone. The opening "Not Your Fault" teeters between the more coherent moments of Ian Hunter, the naked truth of George Harrison circa All Things Must Pass and a truth seeking that is Eberly's alone. "Under The Stares" imagines a musical shootout with Dylan and Reed invited to
witness another brilliant troubadour unravel his wares and aim straight for the listener's heart––it wallops where it needs to, weeps where it needs to and resolves with a sweet sadness that too many songwriters of our current era have yet to comprehend, let alone master. "Would You?" is both disquieting and soothing, the kind of aural companion that we all long for, the track that invades our lives, sees us in our most fragile states and reveals something about us that even we did not know. "Days" could be the work of
a less damaged but not the less brilliant Syd Barret and "Jumpstart" is collides peak era Grateful Dead (American Beauty, Workingman's Dead) with a more hopeful and resonant pop.
But the influences and incidentals of Eberly's music hardly matter––he is an original and focused songwriter whose work demands wider acclaim, a craftsman at a creative zenith we have to hope and believe has only just begun and Retox is a grand and shining star in the firmament of optimism and enlightenment to which its creator hopes to elevate us––perhaps deliver us. Retox is reason to believe in the sacredness of music and the power of the individual to create a wholly new universe which we can all explore.
1. Not Your Fault
2. Under The Stares (Love Will Bring You Down)
3. Somewhere Along The Way
4. Broken Heartland
5. The Ocean
6. Your Best Friend
8. One Good Reason
9. Deeper Than Blue
10. The Only One
11. Would You?
13. Blue Million