Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Not Fade Away - Reissue Review from Issue #33 May-June 2001

Steve Forbert

Young, Guitar Days (Rolling Tide / Relentless)

From the first note of Young, Guitar Days, you’re re-immersed in that Alive On Arrival sound — a loose, earthy mix of acoustic guitar, piano, pedal steel, and Steve Forbert’s wispy, whispery, distinctly Southern voice, an awkward instrument that, through absolute precision, intimacy, and unorthodox phrasing, manages to convey untold emotion.

The devastating “House Of Cards”, a heart-rending meditation on Elvis, written the summer of the King’s demise, holds its immediacy, anger, wisdom, and pathos nearly a quarter-century later. “Song For The South”, all internal rhyme and bouncy folk-rock rhythm, stands with Forbert’s best, most piquant songs. And so it goes, for a 20-track trawl through outtakes from his first four albums.

Young, Guitar Days proves that, like Dylan, Springsteen, and Young, Forbert often left the best songs — fully realized and arranged — off his albums proper. It also proves the (early) pundits wrong: For all Forbert’s gifts with words and internal rhyme, he was not the new Dylan — he wore his heart too transparently on his sleeve for that. And his songs held an underlying playfulness and directness, not to mention a strong R&B sense often absent from Dylan’s work as well (see: “I Will Be There”, a beautiful ballad that could easily have come from the pen of Arthur Alexander or Dan Penn).

“Oh, Camille” is the centerpiece, an amphetamine rush of words wrapped in a trilling harmonica and ringing pop hook, and it captures the electricity of Forbert’s early days in Greenwich Village. “Witch Blues”, with its la-la-la chorus and roller-rink melody, is a shoulda-coulda-been hit. “Smoky Windows” is the most ambitious track here, with its Ravi Shankar-like guitar hook and stop/start arrangement.

Of course, Forbert’s brief dance with mass popularity began and ended with “Romeo’s Tune” in 1980, and the early-to-mid ’80s were a morass of chart flops, management missteps and record-label evil. But, in releasing Young, Guitar Days, Forbert has made his peace with his mercurial early years, with the prescient and poetic youngster who, on “It’s Been A Long Time”, announces, “I look around, I’m getting older, I’m 23 now…”

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108


Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #33 May-June 2001

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »

From the Blogs

  • Drinking Nectar with Wendy Colonna (Album Review)
    In ancient Greek and Roman stories, nectar—that sweet, golden, unadulterated liquid—provides sustenance to gods and goddesses. Nectar’s purity offers energy to those who imbibe its sweet liquor, but nectar’s sweet essence offers an elixir that heals and, for the inhabitants of the heavenly realms at least, drinking nectar also confers immorality upon them. I […]
  • Red Heart Alarm - Hammer Anvil Stirrup (Album Review)
    Seattle is increasingly becoming a bastion of alt country Americana bands vying to be the next big thing toting the Ballard Avenue sound. Red Heart Alarm have coined one of the best terms for their sound calling what they do “Gruntry,” explaining that it marries their native city’s Grunge legacy with the melodic twang of classic Americana/Roots music. The ba […]
  • Matt Woods – With Love From Brushy Mountain (Album Review)
    Ever-bearded Tennessean troubadour Matt Woods’ second full length studio record, With Love From Brushy Mountain, is slated for a May 13, 2014 release.  This comes as a follow up to his first full length, The Matt Woods Manifesto, a trying task in and of itself.  Woods is hands down one of the hardest working singer/songwriters I’ve ever come across.  He eats […]
  • Rod Kennedy (1930-2014) and the Kerrville Folk Festival - Interview & Remembrance
    Rod Kennedy’s legacy is incalculable for those who truly love music, he departed this earthly plane on Monday 14th April 2014. R.I.P. The following “warts and all” late May 1986 interview with Mr. Kennedy, the founder of the Kerrville Folk Festival, was the lead feature in the debut issue of the Kerrville Kronikle fanzine sometime around 1988. No serendipity […]
  • The Redlands Palomino Company - Broken Carelessly (Album Review)
    It’s looking to be a good year for what one might loosely term “alt country” albums with Scots acts the New Madrids and Red Pine Timber Company handing in excellent efforts so far. Time now to look to London to see what’s cooking down there and keeping their end up are The Redlands Palomino Company whose fourth album, Broken Carelessly is released this week. […]
  • Simone Felice - King Tuts Wah Wah Hut (Glasgow - 4/11/2014)
    With his second solo album safely under his belt Simone Felice is rapidly conforming his status as one of the finest purveyors of Americana around these days. Fortunately (for us) he remains somewhat under the mass radar allowing audiences to see him in intimate settings such as the hallowed King Tuts, a perfect space to see and hear his shamanistic offering […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!

Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter