Portland-based singer/songwriter Eddie Berman enthralls with a comforting assortment of introspective rock and folk across his new album, Signal Fire. Whereas 2020’s album Broken English was recorded in isolation, Signal Fire embraces the return to a more collaborative process; Berman rehearsed the new songs with his band, after two years of not playing together, and instantly re-connected with the organic process. “The point of this kind of music isn’t to be discerning, for God’s sake,” he says. “It’s to be alive! I wouldn’t be able to recreate this feeling if I spent a decade recording remotely.”
Aptly, themes of perseverance and re-connection run through the album — taking evident inspiration from the post-pandemic era, and our collective emergence from isolation. In addition, Berman’s personal experiences — notably, becoming a parent — add to the intimate, personable lyrical and thematic prowess, marveling in the beauty of family while also pondering the perils of the world itself. Crafting a consistently riveting sound, Berman is joined by multi-instrumentalist Gabe Feenberg, bassist Gabe Davis, and drummer Chris Wabich.
A captivating opener, “Rolling Over Me” exudes a mellow engrossment. The title-touting chorus melds warming vocals, twangy guitars, and suave organs into a “I’m yours,” vocal embrace. A sort of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” vibe enamors, thematically embracing the tendency of emotions and love to roll over one with whimsical adoration. “Go From Here” follows it up with a sparser folk-set intrigue, asking “where will you go from here?” with hypnotic immersion, a la Nick Drake. A sparse folk setting is wholly immersive, playing like the soundtrack to when one encounters a lofty decision, finding themselves at a crossroads.
Another standout, “Back to You” stirs with a serene piano introduction, easing gently into tender acoustics and a spine-tingling “I’ll always find my way back to you,” vow. The slightly jazzy percussion and acoustic/piano interplay send chills throughout. Acoustics and piano also adorn gorgeously on “First Of Spring (Kiera’s Song),” which struts a a more climactic unveiling. A simmering textural swell journeys into the “I won’t worry,” comfort, emphasizing the word “us,” when confronting struggle and strife; the depiction of unity is heartrendingly compelling.
Signal Fire is a riveting showcase in sincere, affecting songwriting. The beautiful “Heartbroken” is further indication of such. A lyrical search for home and heartache culminates in the discovery of family, as an ascending vocal chilliness traverses into the second minute. Self-discovery, parenthood, and the struggle to find peace in a chaotic world are amongst the lingering themes on this album full of captivating songwriting from Eddie Berman.