4 out of 5 stars
What a surprise this CD was when I finally got around to giving it a listen. Lounging around the house on a late weeknight, I randomly popped this disc in the stereo and within 20 seconds found myself sitting on the floor listening to the first track, “Hope Dies Last,” with the album’s liner notes opened to lyrics — been a while since that happened.
Mark Erelli has been around for some time. Delivered is his seventh album and I am going to be honest: I had never heard of him before listening to his latest release. I will tell you what, though; I have already searched out for more of his music. Erelli falls in the singer/songwriter folk genre and he has seen some success as of late, having supported Lori McKenna on guitar, mandolin and backing vocals during the Tim McGraw & Faith Hill Soul2Soul 2007 tour. He also enlisted Josh Ritter bassist Zack Hickman to produce his latest release, which was a smart move as he steps out of the backing shadows into the forefront.
Blessed with a million-dollar voice, Erelli’s acoustic guitar lends itself to his introspective songs about life’s struggles, government and fatherhood. Erelli’s voice has hints of Dylan, Springsteen and John Hiatt, but is uniquely his own and he controls it well with great melody and intelligent lyrics.
With all of the album’s basic guitar and vocal tracks recorded live in the studio, it is clear to see that Erelli is a performer of grand stature and his acoustic numbers on the album are where he shines brightest and strongest.
Even though the album has a few weak tracks, the other eight more than make up for them. Erelli is a singer/songwriter continuing on with a folk tradition that needs all the good songwriters it can get.