Cymbals At Dawn

Bob Burger

Big Brave Music, 2003

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


There must be a million stories out there of semi-anonymous musicians who lurk in the shadows of others' careers, working and waiting for their moment in the spotlight, should it ever come.

Some don't make it because they're honestly more suited for a supporting role than a lead one. Maybe their voice isn't quite there, or their stage presence is lacking, or they can perform but not write, etc., etc. Or maybe -- just maybe -- their turn simply hasn't come around yet, and is about to.

Let's hope that's the case with Bob Burger, because this guy is one of the most noteworthy talents to emerge from the ever-fertile Jersey Shore scene since that guy named Bruce. As a songwriter, Burger is already a certified success, having penned numerous songs for and with Glen Burtnik of Styx, as well as Donnie Iris and Bobby Bandiera. In recent years, Burger has performed live as a member of Bandiera's group, a local all-star band that has backed Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny and other Shore luminaries at a variety of fundraising eventsmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Forget the resume for a minute, though, and just listen.

Cymbals At Dawn is Burger's first solo album, and it's a sure-handed, appealing showcase for his sharp songwriting and down-to-earth performances. Stylistically, it comes off as a pastiche of early Dylan and middle Beatles, a series of evocative scenes and stories brought to life with acoustic, electric, Hammond, harmonica and Burger's throaty vocals.

The opening "Madalynn" has kind of a George Harrison feel with its ascending/descending chords and lilting, strummed choruses. Vocally, though, Burger is a Lennon disciple, sounding in places like a dead ringer for that modern Lennon-ophile Miles Zuniga of Fastball. (That's a compliment... I'm a big Zuniga fan!)

To add to the A-list influences, Burger adds a touch of Johnny Cash to the chugging country-rock inflections of "Vintage Tweed" and "Deadly Serious," before sealing the bond with a gutsy and surprisingly effective cover of Cash's immortal "Ring Of Fire."

Oh, fine, one more. "Over The Edge" is one of the more effective Roy Orbison homages I've ever heard, Burger's vocals soaring into and out of the choruses that burst out of the steady-building verses. If you're gonna show off your admiration for the greats, you'd better do it with some panache, right?

What really impressed me about this album overall, though, is the effectiveness of narratives like the "Thunder Road"-ish "Girl On The Side Of The Road," the quietly defiant "Don't Count Me Out," and the world-weary "Don't Send A Girl." They simply underscore Burger's skill as a writer -- he's got the goods and pours quality in every one of these tracks.

Bob Burger may be part of the undiscovered brotherhood of musicians waiting for their fifteen minutes, but Cymbals At Dawn should help his cause. This is a strong disc, full of heart and wit and expert songcraft that learns all the right lessons from the old masters Burger clearly admires so much.

[For more information on Bob Burger and Cymbals At Dawn , visit]

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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