Mark Eitzel

Record Review

Phases and Stages

Mark Eitzel

Music for Courage & Confidence (New West) If there's one sure thing about Mark Eitzel, it's his unpredictability. What one makes of Music for Courage & Confidence will depend on where you stand on the Bay Area-based singer-songwriter/ex-American Music Club-er as an artist, and just how far you're willing to follow him. A collection of covers ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime, his initial offering for the locally based New West label begins as a curious listen and ends up just being a drag. One can almost see Eitzel smirking through laconic versions of Anne Murray's "Snowbird" and Culture Club's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me." Whether or not we want to hear him sing these songs is another matter. He ruins an almost straight take on Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make it Through the Night" with some phony stage patter that recalls a bad lounge singer at the local Holiday Inn. It's at that point you're likely to wonder if he can't play it straight, what's the point? The range of original artists represented is truly bizarre. Beyond those already mentioned, he cops from the Andrea True Connection ("More, More, More"), Curtis Mayfield ("Get On Up"), Glen Campbell/John Hartford ("Gentle On My Mind"), and Phil Ochs ("Rehearsals for Retirement"). After a while, Music for Courage & Confidence becomes a trying experience, since almost all the material herein is rendered with the same funereal manner, and in the end, tongue planted firmly in cheek or not, the joke just isn't that funny. (Mark Eitzel plays Stubb's inside, Friday, June 7.)


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