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September 2022
Vol. 21, No. 12
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CD Reviews

JOHN BATDORF: Side II

by Wayne RikerJune, 2022

On November 18, 1972 I reviewed the Loggins and Messina concert for my college newspaper at the Orrie de Noyer Auditorium in Hackensack, New Jersey. The opening act was an impressive guitar/vocal duo, Batdorf and Rodney, whom I gave a glowing review. So here I am a half century later coming full circle with a review of John Batdorf’s latest CD, titled Side II (Side Two).
The six-track EP package is a follow up from his 2004 EP, Side One, although he has released a good number of CDs in the interim. Batdorf, whose lead vocal prowess and eloquently layered vocal harmonies carry the day, is literally a one-man band on acoustic guitar, keys, bass, and percussion in addition to engineering the project.
The songwriting, all original compositions, alongside notable co-writer and composer Michael McLean, focuses on the human condition, from insightful looks at life and love to social commentary. The upbeat “I Saved My Finest Love Song ‘til Now” opens the festivities with his personal take on love.
“This is the song that is only yours and mine, our special music souvenir.” Veteran studio musician Michael Dowdle, on electric guitar, makes an immediate impact with his fluid background fills amid Batdorf’s mellifluous vocal harmonies, followed by the ominous and haunting minor key track, “Dark Wind Blowin’,” with clever lyrical metaphors. “I see my spirit all around…in the cyclone…how am I supposed to reach the ground?”
The optimistic vibe of “If I Could Make the Whole World See” builds beautifully with full vocal choruses climbing through ascending key modulations. “If I could make the whole world see exactly how it ought to be…and everyone agreed with me…I just might miss the chance to see…the beauty in diversity.”
The insightful social commentary rocker “Why’s My Heart Broken,” is fueled by Dowdle’s fiery electric guitar phrases, backing Batdorf’s sweet sounding secondary vocal harmonies. “I wanna know what’s going on…so much darkness, too little dawn,” followed by the hopefully optimistic “Are We Ever Gonna Be Alright,” a search for future answers. “Will we ever find some peace of mind before tomorrow comes.”
The closing track, “Daddy Doesn’t Love You,” brings in pedal steel luminary Dave Pearlman into the mix, providing dulcet tones behind Batdorf’s tropical pop-flavored backdrop, examining how a father perceives his child through life’s progressive stages. “Daddy don’t love you like he used to do…I’m so proud of who you are and the things you choose.”
Batdorf has struck gold again with another batch of rich instrumental and vocal arrangements, mixed tastefully amid his lyrical musings. After all these years it’s good we continue to have him producing an ongoing catalog of pop-oriented gems.

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