In the fall of 2015, Archie Fisher, perhaps Scotland's most renowned and revered folksinger/songwriter/ traditional song interpreter, released a CD that included a song by Richard. Here's what one reviewer said of Archie's rendition of that song:
"Richard Berman’s stark and lovely Loch Lomond-inspired rite of passage song “The Gifts” is one of the single most lovely songs that Fisher has ever recorded." Lahri Bond Reviewing Archie Fisher's CD, A Silent Song, in “Celtic Music Magazine".
In November of 2014, Richard released his seventh CD, You're Home Now. He asked some DJs who post on FolkDJ to listen and give their responses. Here is what they wrote:
“Richard Berman does what he always does- offers a CD with intimate and personal songs that tell us stories we want to hear. At the end of the CD we feel we’ve heard something important. These are great tunes that fit the stories with an appealing gentleness.”
Mike Flynn “The Folk Sampler” Sloam, AR
“For more than two decades Richard Berman has crafted intimate music that explores the many facets of personal relationships and the human condition. This tradition continues with his most recent release, You're Home Now. Within the confines of this new disc are songs that are poignant, songs that pull at one's heartstrings, and songs to stimulate quiet reflection. This is a finely crafted work and one that will nudge you to spin it again and again."
Craig Huegel “Morning Show Monday” WMNF, Tampa, FL
"I have always admired the precision and meticulous care with which Richard prepares and presents his songs, and this has never been more true than on You're Home Now. The title track jumped right out and into my consciousness, tears and all.... it is outstanding, especially when connected to the back story of "People Holding Hands". Another one that hangs in my mind still is the one about his daughter going off to college. Richard, you must promise to come back to Cape Cod for another live interview and performance at WOMR on The Old Songs' Home radio show."
Bob Weiser “The Old Songs’ Home” WOMR, Provincetown, MA
“I listen to Jamie Anderson sing the title song to Richard’s new album You’re Home Now and it brings me to (happy) tears. Richard has a unique talent, able to include details in his songs that turn them into great stories as well.”
Michael Stock “Folk & Acoustic Music” WLRN Radio, Miami, FL
“The subjects Richard takes on are very emotional and sometimes controversial, but the details and contradictions of the issues come through in a very clear and understandable way. The melodies are strong and very engaging, but they do not compete with the lyrics for attention. There is an even blend of words and music very satisfying to the listener. It is a most enjoyable CD!”
Ray Baumler “A Variety of Folk” WRUR-88.5, Rochester, NY
“Richard Berman’s voice is rich and soothing like a warm fire on a cold night or a cool breeze on a hot summer day. His moving song lyrics weave stories like an old tapestry made with new thread.”
Ruby Slippers KVMR-FM, Nevada City, California
“I have had the pleasure of meeting this music poet. Richard has a unique gift- ordinary stories told in an extraordinary way. Therein lies the secret. Listen to this collection and you will be delighted. Well done, Mr. Berman, here’s another fine offering you have gifted us."
Peter Grogan “It’s All in the Song”, Dublin City Radio 103.2, Dublin, Ireland
Here is a review of YOU’RE HOME NOW written in the summer of 2015 by Jackie Morris for FolkWorks:
Richard Berman is one of the great masters of the story-song. And his new seventh album, You’re Home Now, just might be his best work yet. This is no small compliment...as decades of critical acclaim, multiple awards, and Folk DJ “favorite” lists can attest to. Poetic yet always relatable – intimate, thought-provoking, and entertaining – his songs draw you in with lovely, haunting melodies and hold you with beautifully understated feeling.
Berman has composed a wide variety of modern folk ballads for this album, all delivered in a voice of uncommon candor. But he also has incorporated several upbeat Americana songs as well, along with occasional overtones of gospel, old-time blues, and Middle Eastern music. Helping him achieve this diversity is Berman’s producer, Max Cohen, on guitar (as well as occasional bass and harmony) and over a dozen talented guest artists, including Chris Devine and Donna Herbert on fiddle, Chris Haynes on piano and accordion, Marcie Brown on cello, and Joe Fitzpatrick on percussion.
It is, to be sure, an extremely tasteful, excellent production...subtle and sophisticated. But in the end, it is always Berman’s lyricism that steals the show. With the eye of an artist, he creates moods, characters, and personal relationships that are realistic and sympathetic. And while the initial impression might be one of gentle, moving music filled with a quiet wisdom, make no mistake: Berman never shies away from controversial topics.
This is evident in the title track of the album, You’re Home Now. It deals with the true story of two lesbian women, deeply in love, one of whom struggles to overcome rejection by her fundamentalist parents. In the end, love wins the day...and “You’re home now” are the words that the once-intolerant mother finally says to her daughter’s partner. It is a profoundly moving, unforgettable song, and Berman has added another layer of realism to it by asking a woman to sing it – the wonderfully talented Jamie Anderson – accompanied only, and eloquently, by Chris Haynes on piano.
Of course, this is far from the only poignant song on the album. It opens with a beautiful piece called Quoddy Point, co-written with Buddy Mondlock (the only co-write on the album). Quoddy Point is, in fact, the easternmost point in the United States. As such, it receives the first rays of light in the morning and has always been frequented by young lovers. The song is sung by the old lighthouse keeper as he watches a pair of these young lovers and reminisces about his own lost love when he was young. There is a quiet yearning in this song –tinged with sadness, but still looking towards that first light – that makes this song a true piece of poetry. And that mood is reflected perfectly in the cello of Marcie Brown and fiddle of Donna Herbert.
It is followed by A Father and a Daughter, a quiet portrait of an often unspoken event in modern life – when it’s time for a parent to “let go” of almost-grown children. It contains one of my favorite truisms in the album, as the father says: “I miss you even now before you’ve gone.”
Then the album bursts into a fabulously exotic and exciting song called An Appointment in Samarra. Based on a one-paragraph story by W. Somerset Maugham, it is the tale of a Baghdad merchant whose servant meets Death in the marketplace and tries to escape him. I’ll let you find out what happens when you listen to the song. This track is alive with rhythm and a Middle Eastern cadence, accomplished in large part by Chris Devine on fiddle, Joe Fitzpatrick on percussion, and Rusty Annis on dumbek.
There are 13 tracks in all on this album – all of them gems. But I must point out four more of my favorites. My Mother is Religious is filled with dynamic percussion, a traditional “old time religion” organ, and some rather untraditional brilliant philosophy. It starts out on a deliciously ironic note: “My mother is religious. She just doesn’t believe in God.” But, after opening in this somewhat humorous vein, Berman takes us by surprise by telling us what his mother does believe in. And those beliefs are so very deeply spiritual – truly at the heart of every religion – that the song is nothing short of uplifting. Kudos for Max Cohen’s guitar work, Joe Fitzpatrick’s drums, great harmonies by Max Cohen, Kate O’Connor and Rico Spence, and Darby Wolf’s inspired Hammond organ.
My last three favorites are part of a wonderful Americana trilogy: The Devil and Miss Hattie...The Gambler....and Miss Hattie’s Story. It is the story of a young man who wanders into a nearby tavern after losing all his money to an unscrupulous riverboat gambler. There he meets the young woman who owns the tavern, Miss Hattie, and they fall in love. In each song, Berman tells this story from the vantage point of a different character – the first time, from the young man’s point of view; the second time, from the Gambler’s point of view; and the third time from, from Miss Hattie’s point of view – each time providing a compassionate insight into the character involved (perhaps most of all, the gambler).
Each song in the trilogy stands perfectly on its own, with its own unique melody and musical treatment: Dan Levitt adds a lively banjo toThe Devil and Miss Hattie. Jim Henry adds a rootsy dobro to The Gambler; and Chris Devine brings his heartfelt fiddle to underscore the poignant nature of Miss Hattie’s Story. But taken together, the three songs are all the more wonderful...and the second time you hear each song, it is enhanced by this overview.
Once again, Richard Berman is home now...in the heart.
What DJs Have Written About Richard's previous CD, Now and Then:
Richard Berman's latest work--Now & Then- just builds on all the wonderful stories and insights he has composed over the years and goes to a whole other level- songs of longing, loving, and emotion capped with a brilliant trilogy on the tale of The Prodigal Son from the three different viewpoints. One word review for this CD would be "Brilliant".
Bill Hahn, co-host of "Traditions" on WFDU
The Prodigal Son trilogy is a terrific three song expansion of a concept presented from three points of view - something I don't think I've ever seen done quite this way before on any album of original songs. It's the musical equivalent of an actor in a one-person show deftly switching character and perfectly presenting the same story through the eyes of three different people. For my money, the songs "You, Me and Bobbie McGee" and "Blessings" are worth the price of admission alone.
Jeff Emery, host of "Backroads" on KZSC
Santa Cruz, CA
Richard Berman's music could be described as the contemplative sound track for a life richly lived, for the person who is in love with their spouse, family, and friends, and understands that a life well lived is not without questions or regrets. Employing beautifully spare arrangements, Berman combines articulate, thoughtful lyrics with soothing melodies. His voice is warm and mellow, perfectly able to convey the complex spiritual and intellectual themes that are explored throughout his songs.
Maggie Ferguson, host of "The Old Front Porch" on WXOU
Richard Berman's Now and Then is a stellar work from a craftsman of story and melody. These dozen tunes allow you a look through Berman's personal memories, simultaneously allowing you to access your own rear view mirror, since the CD is rife with universal themes- love for women, song, lost romance and Momma Earth touch the memories of us all, whether sweet or bitter. "You, Me and Bobbie McGee" puts me behind the wheel of my own memories, thanks to Richard Berman's willingness to share his. He offers up "Mister Guitar Player" and "The Prodigal Son Trilogy" to lift our thoughts out of despair and infuse them with pleasant reflection, productive retrospective and yes, even hope. In the landscape of new music - give yourself a leisurely listen to Now and Then and pass it on to your friends.
Sonnie Brown, host of "The Minstrel Song Show" KCBX FM-90, San Luis Obispo/Santa Barbara California USA