World So Blue - 2006
“World So Blue, the third self-produced album from singer/songwriter Greg Boerner, is a true triumph in the portrayal of raw, vulnerable emotion. Steeped in the Blues and Folk of Boerner's Southern upbringing, World So Blue gives listeners a window into the world of a man who vacillates between heartache, love, longing and hope. Boerner's sultry, haunting voice makes each lyric palpable; his melodies resonate. If the litmus test of true talent in a songwriter is the ability to invite the listener to relate any song to his/her own life and experiences, then Boerner is among the elite. His penchant for honest, exposed, often seductive lyrics coupled with brilliant guitar playing and beautiful melodies earns him the mark of a truly talented storyteller. Highlights like "This Love " and "Don't Wake Me From This Dream " are drenched in conflict, longing and the human struggle with the ferocity of love, while songs like "Adele " and "Watchin' The Girls Go By " explore the playful, flirtatious, more humorous side of Boerner's multi-faceted persona. World So Blue is a remarkable addition to the already rich catalog of a humble artist from Augusta, Georgia who is well on his way to leaving his indelible mark on the face of music.”
– Christina Plotzke, serious music fan and writer/critic for Prefix and Groupeez magazines
“The rather unpolished intro from the new album of guitarist/singer/songwriter Greg Boerner (pronounced "Burner ") did not promise a lot of good...but the man from Augusta, Georgia, now residing in the Chicago area, puts things immediately in order with the title song "World So Blue ". Boerner has released his third album and was until today completely unknown to me. Greg was good enough to provide me with his previously published material, namely: Nowhere (1998) and Wishing Well (2001) and to my shame, have to admit that again I have "missed " something. An excellent finger picking guitarist and an excellent singer/songwriter who openly admits that his "penchant for laziness seems to override my gift for songwriting ". His lack of financial means and the breaking up of his marriage (after 13 years) are the main factors why we had to wait this long for a new album. Not so pleasant experiences, but they don't stop him from creating a pearl of a new album. World So Blue is the final love letter to his wife Stephanie and it echoes the pain of the break up of something that started out as a fairy tale. This lovely acoustic number with the other bluesy/soul pearl "This Love " deserve to become Radio 1 hits. (This is one of the better radio stations on the Flemish radio). These are "goosebumps" songs that show that Greg has a hard time getting over the divorce. The writing of "Gold/They Can't Tell Me ", a song about a man going a little crazy, is the result of his pain. "Watchin' The Girls Go By " can maybe make sure that with "Adele " (son Jake on the cornet), Josephine or Anna Lee the new Virgin Queen will make her entry into the house of Boerner. And it is no little thing that the country/blues/gospel in "Heaven Bound " refers to "Ray Charles on the stereo or sweet tea on my mother's porch." These are songs that illustrate Boerner's inspiration from artists like Tom Waits, Willie Dixon, J.J. Cale, Willis Alan Ramsey, B.B. King, Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley. Moreover, he has shared the stage with Bill Morrissey, Chris Smither, Robbie Fulks, Leon Russell, Wayne Toups and Tinsley Ellis--artists that without hesitation would put the slide jewel "Melody " or the storytelling songs "Marywood " and "Don't Wake Me From This Dream " on their playlists. In this his 38th year, and with his third album under his arm, this Greg Boerner, in my opinion, is ready to make his big break - "I want to make music that is sincere, means something to me and hopefully means something to others." He has passed with flying colors! 4 1/2 stars out of 5 ”
– Francois (Swa) Braeken, Reporter Euro Americana chart CD reviewer for the E-magazine "ROOTSTIME".
“I had the opportunity last month to talk with Greg Boerner (pronounced Burner), a Georgia native who moved to Illinois a few years ago. Boerner just self-released his third CD, World So Blue, and since quite a lot of the album was inspired by his recent divorce, our features editor thought that would be a neat story. Especially since I got to talk to his ex-wife, too, and get her thoughts. But even if you're not enthralled by real-life tales of lost love, Boerner's music is worth checking out, especially if you're into folk and blues traditions. His songs are uncomplicated in the best way, especially a romp like "Heaven Bound ", and his acoustic guitar playing is deft and skillful. His best quality is his deep, soulful voice, but here he's surrounded it with his most complete production. Boerner still plays most of the instruments himself, as he did on his comparatively stark earlier records, but World So Blue adds percussion, electric guitars and a host of other colors. You'd never know it's a DIY effort, so clear and well-balanced is the sound, but the elaborate measures don't detract from the core: acoustic-based songs, played and sung well. Boerner stretches out here, too, incorporating a Tom Waits influence on "Don't Wake Me From This Dream ", perhaps his finest song. It fits in well with the more melancholy tone of this record, which, considering its subject matter, is not surprising. The title song is a mid-tempo lament, a plea for a second chance, on which Boerner provides subtle mouth percussion, and "This Love ", another minor-key favorite, takes an old blues trope and makes it new: "One thing's for certain, there's two things I know, this love will kill me, and I can't let it go." Both Boerner's lyrics and music are simple and accessible - sometimes too simple for my taste - and fans of singer-songwriters like John Hiatt and Steve Earle (in acoustic mode) should find much to like here. The two things I admire most about World So Blue are the sense of diversity - there's gospel, Louisiana shuffle, country-folk and pop mixed in with Boerner's traditional blues and roots music - and the sonic texture. The whole thing is sequenced well, and lest you think it's all lovelorn moping, it concludes with two breezy, upbeat numbers that leave you wanting more. World So Blue is an interesting homemade document, and Boerner is obviously a talented guy with quite a good voice. Nothing here is going to change the world, but Boerner's not trying to be innovative, just enjoyable. If you like straightforward songs about love and life, drawn from a perspective of deep respect for classic American music of all stripes, then this is for you. I'd also recommend Wishing Well, Boerner's second record, which is more blues-based, and sounds more like his live show.”
– Andre Salles, writer/reviewer/columnist for www.tm3am.com
With Greg Boerner’s 3rd album, the songwriting, guitar skills and ability to get around in the studio have all matured. The overdubs are many but nothing’s ever busy. In places, it simply sounds as if he’s got a hot band in the room. “Adele”, for example, drops slices of slide and “underwater” guitar over the tune’s finger-picked, swampy bottom. However, he’s also included percussion and his son Jake on cornet. From the jumped-up gospel of “Heaven Bound” to the smokey sensuality of “This Love”, Boerner’s ability to simultaneously fill out and leave space is impressive. There are fewer blatant suggestions of the blues and R&B he grew up on, in their place is an implicit sense that things aren’t any longer as uncomplicated as sweet tea and Ray Charles records. The track, “Gold”, with its comments on “burned out wood where love once stood”, makes this clear before segueing into the surreal “They Can’t Tell Me”. In fact, “Gold/They Can’t Tell Me” might be Boerner’s best songwriting yet; the fact that he’s chosen to connect commentary on love lost with what might otherwise come off as a goof gives the entire piece added gravity. Because of this, it’s almost easy to forget the guitar chops, which have become subtler. The electric line that snakes through “Marywood” simply begs, while its counterpart in “Melody” serves as harmony for some tasteful slide playing.
If there’s a complaint, it’s certainly not in the confidence department but perhaps the territory Boerner continues to draw from. While the snatches of Travis picking and Excello records-esque bayou pop are mighty fine things, some of this leans a bit too close to the middle of the road. But as soon as that comment’s made, one has to realize it’s not Boerner’s job to be one more tortured singer-songwriter a la Nick Drake or Elliot Smith, nor does he necessarily need to trade in the southern roots in exchange for Devandra Banhardt’s more childlike proclivities. And since he’s not just a guitar picker, chances of him pulling a Jack Rose anytime soon are out. The music on World So Blue is honest and shows an artist growing at his own pace, seemingly outside of the boundaries of pop culture. And in a country where we’re often overloaded with information, this is an achievement in and of itself.
– Bruce Miller, writer, teacher, banjo player, self-professed music junkie and gardener. His writing has appeared in Magnet, Oxford American, Bluegrass Unlimited, Global Rhythm and National Geographic Online.