AMG Review of DON'T YOU KNOW
Review by Joe Viglione
The title track to John Batdorf and Michael McLean's Don't You Know album has a simple philosophy and a strum that goes along with an eloquent melody that is easy to hold on to. In the decades after the reign of Seals & Crofts and England Dan & John Ford Coley, as well as more famous pairings like Simon & Garfunkel, John Batdorf soldiers on impressively, finding a formidable collaborator in the popular Michael McLean. The 11 songs are well constructed and highly commercial, from the very catchy "It's Not Love," borrowing heavily from the Rolling Stones' final (and uncredited) Jimmy Miller-produced hit, 1981's "Waiting on a Friend," to the moving "Heartbeat Away." That the sensibilities are straight out of the '70s and '80s folk-rock era is an indication of where these craftsmen found the components to build their ark. A chorus of backing vocals emphasizes the point as the folksy "It's Not Love" rocks to its conclusion, while "Promised Land" doesn't take as long to set the stage, driving with the spirit of any uptempo Eagles number. And that's the interesting element at play here, for the material is stronger than latter-day America or Eagles music, but with no major-label push or commercial platform, superb titles like "It's Only My Heart" remain hidden performances lost in the shuffle of millions and millions of copyrights looking for recognition. This is truly one of those important discs waiting for a second look, the distinctive voice of Batdorf surrounded by great players and sublime production. It is perhaps a sign of the times that such an elegant composition as "Never Had to Ask" won't be getting major FM airplay on radios across the country without some kind of action in television or film, or perhaps a James Taylor or Don Henley type looking for outside material to push in this new musical era. That would be a positive; however, these performances and this recording are so perfectly put together that the glory should go to the work of Batdorf & McLean on this potential monster album just waiting to be heard by consumers. The themes the songwriters explore are similar from song to song, and like a good book, some of the lyrical ideas reappear in different titles. Pick any track -- "She's the Girl" with Tim Heintz's accordion and Greg Leisz's mandolin or "Never Had to Ask" with Michael Baird's drums-in-a-cavern sound -- and you'll hear masterful players working with a soulful voice on perfectly written pop songs. This 1997 undiscovered gem by the veteran pair comes with a 12-page booklet and is as beautifully produced as it is packaged.Click here to listen to song samples, buy the CD, read the review, see the CD overview and credits and link to the artists' other work
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