Singer-songwriter Steve Forbert released his 16th studio album, Compromised, on November 6, 2015, via Rock Ridge Music (with distribution through ADA). Recorded in Woodstock and Cape Cod and produced by Forbert along with John Simon (who helmed Forbert’s breakthrough sophomore album, 1979’s Jackrabbit Slim), Compromised is anything but what its title suggests. Its aggressive, roots-rock stylings are reminiscent of Forbert’s 1992 album The American in Me.
From the rambling piano and horn-driven swing in “Big Comeuppance” to the seductive twang in “Devil (Here She Comes Now)” to the ironic romanticizing of Altamont in “Welcome the Rolling Stones,” Forbert has followed his muse to the hilt. “It’s all about the songs,” Forbert acknowledges, “and the songs are about the inspiration. For me, if you have the inspiration, then you have to make the commitment to getting the song as good as you know it should be. Then making an album-a finished product-is your next challenge.”
Compromised collaborators include bassist Joey Spampinato (NRBQ), drummer Lou Cataldo (The Freeze), pianist/trumpeter Kami Lyle, and keyboardist Robbie Kondor, the latter of whom played on Forbert’s classic 1978 debut, Alive on Arrival. “I recorded with the band that did the Arrival and Jackrabbit anniversary tours with me in 2013 and 2014,” Forbert says, “where we played those albums in their entireties. It just seemed natural to say, ‘Okay, we’re going to rehearse for this tour – but let’s record an album together, too.’ And it was great reconnecting with John Simon again after all this time.”
Compromised seems to be a fairly ironic title, given the nature of its contents. “If people ask me why it’s called Compromised, well, that’s the first song on the record, and it’s pretty true to my style,” Forbert admits. “But to put it simply, I’ve been dealing with the changes we’ve all been going through and what we live with in life today. Clearly, we’re going through something new because of the digital revolution. We have so much intensity in the air now – that cliché of too much information.”
In today’s overload-of-information age, Forbert recognizes the value of having a “calling card” song in his arsenal – “Romeo’s Tune,” his indelible pop hit that reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980. “That song took on a life of its own,” he says. “Did I become a household name? No. But you write the songs, and you record the songs. As long as you have the inspiration, you keep on going.” A testament to his songwriting prowess, Forbert’s songs have been recorded by several artists, such as Keith Urban, Marty Stuart, and Rosanne Cash. His 2002 tribute album to Jimmie Rodgers (entitled Any Old Time) was nominated for a Grammy in the best traditional folk category in 2004. Born in Meridian, Mississippi, Forbert was inducted into the Mississippi Music Hall of Fame in 2006.
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