AG Weinberger – Reborn
12 songs – 58 minutes
Reborn is the tenth album by Romanian singer, guitar and songwriter, AG Weinberger, and a very impressive release it is, too. Featuring ten original songs, plus two tasty covers, Reborn is probably most accurately categorised as a blues-based album in that the blues is the absolute foundation of all the music here, but there are also liberal dollops of jazz, pop, rock and even cabaret thrown in for good measure.
Hailing from Transylvania, Weinberger has a voice as large as his 6′ 5″, 255 lb frame, but one that is also capable of revealing deep emotion. Perhaps as a result of having spent seven years in the States in the early 2000s, his vocals display no hint of an accent. He is also a fine guitar player, mixing standard guitar and lap steel with aplomb.
The album opens with a cover of “Wang Dang Doodle” that takes the song in directions Willie Dixon probably didn’t envisage when he wrote it. The rhythm section of Pusztai Csaba on drums and Hárs Viktor on bass lay down a bouncing, springy groove over which Cseke Gábor’s piano dances with light jazz lines, while Weinberger sings the song in a relatively orthodox manner. Come the solo section, however, Weinberger lays down a wild jazz-tinged, psychedelic rock guitar solo. It’s an arresting interpretation and heralds the expansive, questing nature of the rest of the album overall.
The upbeat “Sweet Little Number” has hints on New Orleans, especially in Gábor’s jazz-tinged solo. The minor-key “On The Wrong Side” sounds like something Eric Clapton would have loved to have recorded in his mid-80s era and contains a lovely lap steel solo from Weinberger. “The Fool’s Lucky Day” features a guest appearance from the mighty Bob Margolin, who lays down a typically mind-blowing slide guitar solo. There is also a playful “duel” between the two guitarists on the fade out where one can almost hear the smiles of both players. The funky “It Wouldn’t Be Enough” again highlights the superb rhythm work of Csaga and Viktor, while the instrumental “Slippery Slope” recalls some of Robben Ford’s fusion work, although Weinberger has a slightly sharper attack. In contrast, “Just One Minute” is a gentle acoustic ballad with another fine lap-steel solo from Weinberger.
The second cover version on the album is the great Johnnie Bassett’s “Cadillac Blues”, which Weinberger and crew play with reverence, retaining Bassett’s original structure and approach. The sweet piano-led pop of “Caroline” has a catchy chorus, while the title track actually sounds like a 70s rock song with its strummed acoustic guitar, sparse, echoey slide guitar and a mid-section that breaks down into a discordant, curiously uncomfortable, psychedelic workout. The closing track, “I Am The Water” features Weinberger’s vocal accompanied only by Gábor’s delicate piano.
Reborn was impressively recorded by Kálmán Cserny at Origo Studio in Budapest, Hungary, who captured some very warm, natural sounds.
Weinberger describes his music as “related to blues”, which probably undersells the amount of blues on Reborn, although it’s probably fair to say that “Cadillac Blues” and “The Fool’s Lucky Day” are the only unalloyed blues tracks on the release. It is however a fascinating and enjoyable album, highlighting Weinberger’s many talents. Well worth investigating.