Review: Richard Shindell “Not Far Now”

The world of folk and Americana music has missed Richard Shindell. You see, it's been more than five years since he last released an new project full of original songs. "Not Far Now" was worth the wait, because Richard Shindell's beautiful lyrics, lush instrumentation and quietly confident vocals have never sounded better.

Richard Shindell is a master storyteller who has a unique talent of telling compelling stories that are seemingly simple but often show deeper meaning upon repeated listens. He also brings new meaning to the songs of others as evidenced by his terrific 2007 covers album "South Of Delia."

The album begins with the country-infused "Parasol Ants," which offers a memorable melody and excellent lyrics. Richard Shindell the folksinger returns on the quiet "A Juggler Out In Traffic." It succeeds on all levels.

"One Man's Arkansas" is even better, and this track is a compelling tale about dishonest property developers. The serious topics continue with "State Of The Union" which chronicles alcohol addition, and the lyrics paint a crystal clear picture of the heartache involved in the process of attempting sobriety. "Bye Bye" and "Get Up Clara" also deserve special attention from listeners.

But the best song on the album is the beautiful "Gethsemani Goodbye." Richard Shindell has the voice of an angel, and his soaring vocals will fill up any room. The biggest surprise of the album is "Balloon Man" which offers a more pop/contemporary mix that suits Shindell's vocals perfectly. "Balloon Man" has an anthemic quality that makes it a perfect choice for radio stations. In fact, it should be already be in heavy rotation on Sirius-XM's Coffee House channel. "Mariana's Table" has many of the same qualities.

If Tracy Chapman and James Taylor had a love child, he might have the voice of Richard Shindell. That's a high compliment, indeed, but the praise is more than deserved. Richard Shindell is a musical presence who was born to entertain. "Not Far Now" is a triumph of the highest level, and any fan of Americana, folk or country music should run - not walk - to the nearest music store to buy this amazing album. We can only hope that a new Richard Shindell album will be released "not far" from now.