The Songs on Western Reserve

“Western Reserve” is a departure for me — an album steeped in the Northeastern Ohio of my youth and informed by the dark times in which we now live. The album opens with four related songs: “However You Can,” “Western Reserve,” “Never Going Home” (co-written with Derek Bianchi, and the loudest, rockin’est thing I’ve ever done), and “Lost and Found” that together tell the story of an Ohio family’s response to tragedy and economic hardship with resilience, defiance and faith. Side one ends with “Tend the Fire,” a song of love and loss with wonderful backing vocals arranged and sung by Libby McLaren.

Side two opens with a power-pop tune, “Tuesday Girl,” followed by a cover of Fran McKendree’s sweet and sad “Don’t Keep Me Waiting” (a song I’ve loved since its release in 1972 on McKendree Spring’s “Tracks” album. Third is “Photography,” a song challenging us to respond to the unspeakable things our morally bankrupt government is doing to immigrant children, “Good Book Blues” (just plain randy), and “The Final Word,” a tribute to the irreplaceable, essential and greatly missed Leonard Cohen.

Making “Western Reserve” has been a delight — I am so grateful to Derek and Libby; to my best pal Paul Weiss, who plays slide and helped with crafting the music to the title song and to “Lost and Found”; and to Shira Kammen, whose string playing adds so much depth to several songs.

I also got to play a bunch of great guitars on the album, including hand-made instruments by James and Luke Goodall, Alan Perlman and Tsukeyune Yamamoto, and a sweet little mid-’60’s Martin — and I got to play more harmonica than I have in decades. I hope you enjoy listening to it half as much as I enjoyed making it!