Prophetstown - 2011
Greg Boerner is a natural troubadour. His personality as a singer-songwriter and finger-picking skills are the coveted kind that can bring a chattering room to hushed attention with just voice and acoustic guitar. Though he’s crafted more intricately decorated arrangements in the past, his new album Prophetstown comes closest to witnessing the artist in the wild.
“Honey B ” is Prophetstown’s jauntiest tune, a lighthearted ode to love and rediscovery that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in Chet Atkins’ repertoire. “Potbelly Blues ” is a limber, walking blues instrumental with a swing in its stride. With a slightly darker edge to its folky sway, “For You ” finds Boerner determined to win his sweetheart’s affection by any means necessary. If she’s not going to give her heart away, he’s willing to steal it.
The album’s occasional embellishments are used to great effect. A spectral lap steel guitar reflects the haunted atmosphere of “Fallen.” A watery electric guitar drips crocodile tears as Boerner answers an unnamed fault-finder during “Disappoint You.” At its most overt, a swampy Stratocaster colors the strangely inviting surroundings and cast-off characters found in the “Hong Kong Café.”
A handful of these songs find Boerner on the lonely road with miles to go. “Down ” is coiled and tense, as Boerner tries to shake the feeling that “something somewhere just ain’t right.” “Just Can’t Get You Out of My Head ” is desperate and brooding, as if Boerner’s driver persona is fighting toward a destination but should have succumbed to sleep hours ago. At the point when others might have piled on extra frills for the dangerously loud guitar solo, Boerner pulls in close for understated acoustic blues licks that cut like a knife.
Of all the songs on Prophetstown, the wonderfully self-deprecating “This Ain’t Me ” is the one that cries out for a honky-tonk rhythm section and loping country shuffle. Boerner stares down the mirror and his faults with stubborn denial. Ultimately, Boerner finds himself “singing a new song.” He may not recognize himself, but it sounds like he’ll enjoy getting to know the new guy. You will, too.
- Jeff Elbel, freelance writer with Chicago Sun-Times and Illinois Entertainer
Prophetstown is a stunning new CD of songs from Greg Boerner. Listen to this album carefully, so that you absorb and savor every word, sound, and atmospheric nuance created by Boerner's superb songwriting, vocal delivery, and guitar playing. The songs tell stories of interesting characters and places, explore thoughts and emotions, revel in love, and walk down the dusty streets of a strange town. Prophetstown is on my "Folk Festival Faves" list for Top Ten albums for 2011.
- Lilli Kuzma, host of "Folk Festival" on WDCB Public Radio, Chicagoland
“I have known Greg Boerner for about five years. I wrote a story about the making of his third album, World So Blue, for my former newspaper - the album centered around Boerner's divorce, and I spoke to both him and his ex-wife about the circumstances and the songs they inspired. I loved writing that story, and I also enjoyed getting to know Greg and his music. He's one of the few people I know making a living playing music, which means he plays, locally and elsewhere, all the time, and he has years of practice capturing an audience's attention with nothing more than his voice and his acoustic guitar. You can hear all of that experience brought to bear on his new album, Prophetstown. It is not so much an evolution of his bluesy, engaging sound as it is a refinement of it - he's grown into this style so completely at this point that this album gives you the best sense yet of what Boerner does. There's lots of loneliness and desolation here, lots of minor keys, but there's a real feeling of a terrific performer happily coming into his own on record. Take the title track, for instance. It's a simple, smoky piece, but you'll be amazed at how much atmosphere Boerner conjures up with just two guitars and voice. Everything he's doing on guitar makes your ears perk up - lesser guitarists could play this song and not get the feel of it even remotely right. "For You " is similar, an epic tale of love and theft that floats along on choppy waters. It's marvelous. Boerner does get lighter and more upbeat here and there, most notably on "Honey B " - I dare you not to smile when you hear this one. But largely, Prophetstown is a slower and darker ride than Boerner's given us in the past. The last three songs are my favorites. "Down " is like driving through a tunnel, lights speeding by overhead, lonely and alone. It's one of Boerner's best melodies, simple yet effective. The same can be said for "This Ain't Me ", a gently loping tune about realizing the depths of one's behavior. The effect, after the previous nine songs, is like rubbing one's eyes and facing the sun. And it leads into the tremendous closer, "Hong Kong Cafe." If you have Made in Aurora, you know this trippy fantasy, and it's just as good here. The spoken section is a knockout: "His name was Russell Morgan, but he called himself Pete..." Of course, Greg Boerner is a performer you need to see live. But Prophetstown is the next best thing, and is Boerner's best and most consistent effort.”
- Andre Salles, writer/reviewer/columnist for www.tm3am.com
5 out of 5 stars - REALLY incredible...
I can't figure out where I've been to have not known of this artist before. Wow. I just got this album and it has blown me away from beginning to end. Greg Boerner has the most genuine and 'real' quality to his voice that I've heard in a long time; a true breath of fresh air. And those lyrics -- you'll listen and listen and listen. As I type this, I am getting ready to play it again, for the 3rd time in a row because I can't seem to quite get enough of him. Oh, and did I mention his guitar work? Wait til you hear that perfect pick, perfect rhythm in his fingers, and that ever so slight tap on the face of the guitar. It's all to die for. I am so, so glad I found this album and I'm loving every minute of it. With some luck, I'll collect everything he's ever done. He is just that fabulous. So get a good glass of wine, find a comfortable spot, lean your head back, and listen so you, too, can travel his journey of storied songs. Really nice.
- JennyD, 28 February 2013 - Published on Amazon.com