Marc Douglas Berardo "Harbor"

Marc Douglas Berardo
CD Baby

CD review by Roger-Z (04/21/07)
Appeared in More Sugar, May 2007, P. 11B

I love the intimacy of folk music -- a stranger sharing their most private desires and thoughts. Some writers tell a story and let the listener draw their own conclusions. Others use the plot to drive home a point. Guitarist, songwriter, singer Marc Douglas Berardo falls into the latter category. On this record he uses his characters to demonstrate the life well and not so well lived. In "Where the Road Turns to Shell and Sand," Berardo describes leaving Cape Cod to conquer the big city only to get "dragged down in the flood." Back working in a marina, he finds himself "poor as hell now but finally content." While some musicians eventually tire of life on the road playing small-time clubs, not so Mr. Berardo. In "Working," he sings, "I felt the lonely and sad sort of freedom that comes with living in your car. I worked the cold rooms from Maine to Minnesota. What I couldn't invent, I just stole. I learned how to make a living, not a killing. But mostly learned that you can't buy soul. Yeah, and I still love it. Yeah I still do."

But some life styles don't make the grade. Take "Trust Fund Sally." An only child, she spends her "daddy's money on booze and fast machines, fancy clothes and Hollywood scenes." Unfortunately, she "stomped on the little ones and bought off the rest and everywhere she went she left a mess." Finally, her folks cut her off. "So Sally lost her friends, her money and her way." In "Abuse," Berardo castigates disparaging parents. "It's a bad, bad world when a parent feels such hate that they lash out and berate. When you're defenseless you will believe anyone. When you're a child you will believe it when they lie."

Marc Douglas Berardo (acoustic guitar, vocals) delivers his points in a simple, plaintive voice backed by a group of supportive, but unobtrusive players including Professor Dick Neal (mandolin, guitar, organ, pedal steel, banjo, percussion), Steve Combs (electric and acoustic bass), brother Chris Berardo (percussion, harmony vocals), Liam Bailey (guitar, mandolin, fiddle), Larry Deming (viola, violin), and Susan Spaulding (French horn). Larry Deming arranged the strings.

Berardo spends most of the CD dwelling on the positive. He comes to terms with his father's tough love in "Better After All." "That crazy made us a family that was better after all." He extols "Ricky" in the song of the same name. "He was raised to be a criminal but...put all that in his past. With his open doors came Hell's Angels, boat captains, prisoners, Kennedy's and kings. Ricky would make them all breakfast and the rest of us would sing. Passing around the D-18 sweet fancy Martin guitar, pouring whiskey in the coffee and singing to the stars." In "Take It Along," Berardo urges the listener to fully engage life. "Oh take it along. Oh give a little bit away. Oh do something real and feel something everyday. Oh take it along and try to make it great. For all you know for this you cannot wait."

Before putting pen to paper, I lived with this CD for many months. Over that time, I grew to love it more and more. So will you.

2007 Roger-Z