Singer-songwriter BB Wolfe

PRESS/REVIEWS

ROOTSTIME.BE

ROOTSTIME.BE REVIEW OF BB WOLFE'S "TIGHTROPE WALKERS"                                           translated from Dutch to English by Carla Overduin and Bill Bosler.

 

It’s not like songwriter BB Wolfe from Michigan, in daily life also known as Donald R. Goldsmith, releases an album every other day! His debut “A.K.A.” dates from 2005 and “Heart Worn Sleeve” followed in 2008. But if he releases one, then it’s right on target, with its melodic atmosphere and poetic content. His songs are often somber with sometimes a bitter undertone because of the social injustices or existential misery we are confronted with. His youth as an adopted child might have marked him and his work as a teacher and painter might have shaped his view of the world. As a visual artist, he also paints his songs in fine pastels, in which heartache, sorrow and longing go hand in hand. If he would ever have been a boy scout, his totem name probably would have been “song thrush”. 

 

BB Wolfe delivers his songs with an intensity like he’s the only one left behind on the symbolic high voltage wire of life and accompanies himself with acoustic guitar and sometimes harmonica, like on the title track, that because of this reason reminds us somewhat of Bob Dylan. Wolfe kept the accompaniment (this time without the “Goldmine Pickers” of the other album), on purpose sparse with beside himself, Uncle John Potthast on pedal steel and dobro and Bruce Bartlett on bass and violin. Bruce’s last contribution to the beautiful “Balance” adds to the nostalgic mood that hangs on the lyrics as dew drops. Potthast’s pedal steel gives some of the songs a country feel, like in “If I Could” and “Her Car”. 

 

The song pearls spread like snow crystals to a frozen window, like the longing “Will I”, vulnerably presented, or the melancholy drawlingly sung “Broken Promises/Shattered Dreams”, that sounds bluesy and almost orphaned. The song “Clothesline Blues” comes across as a wordless cry for help of a lonely soul and in “Antigone’s Lament (Tina’s Song)” the sorrow is loaded with broken and unfulfilled dreams. It is mostly Wolfe’s melancholy heart wrenching style of singing that evokes images, like Kris Kristofferson, Jim Page, Eric Andersen, Nick Drake or Fred McDowell are capable of.

 

Again this lyric and sentimental, sincere songwriter has, five years after his “Heart Worn Sleeve”, created an album that speaks to the imagination with nine atmospheric “miniature paintings” captured in melodic lines with each a specific light fall of which it is difficult to tear yourself away from. 

Marcie

Freelance Writer

Must-have!!! author: Tom Conway - Freelance Writer “Heart Worn Sleeve,” singer/songwriter B.B. Wolfe’s sophomore album, is a triumph. The nine songs, all written or co-written by Wolfe, deal with the writer’s introspective view of himself and society. Much of it is moving. Wolfe remains within the traditional folk idiom, with suggestions of Dylan. The members of the superb Americana band, Goldmine Pickers – wisely chosen by Wolfe to support him – offer colorful instrumentation, but it is Wolfe’s words and phrasing that justify repeated listening. The mysterious Wolfe – the cover art only presents a fly-on-the-ceiling view of the singer – reveals even more layers of his talent than his excellent debut, “A.K.A.” A must-have for any serious admirer of good music.

ROOTSTIME.BE

JUNE 2008 REVIEW "Every so often one witnesses a small wonder. When suddenly you hold a musical gem in your hand, not knowing where the brilliance comes from. Is it the sensitive voice, serene and settled as if the heart is broken? Is it the atmospheric accompaniment of the Goldmine Pickers with fiddle, guitar, mandolin and banjo? Is it the lyrical texts that the melodies center around? Perhaps it is everything at once, but it is especially the singing style with the compelling voice of B.B. Wolfe whose feeling lie under fragile songs. B.B. Wolfe, or Donald Goldsmith, an orphan was adopted shortly after his birth. He comes from Flint, Michigan, and took the name of his adopted father, but was first called Baby Boy. “Winthrop’s Lament” was partly inspired by the relationship with his adoptive father. B.B. is also a painter, potter and educator. As a poetic singer-songwriter, he writes heartbreaking songs that recalls what Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Eric Andersen and Eric Taylor when they were in a melancholy period. But the “mood” that his rootsy blues evokes also shows affinity with Mississippi John Hurt and Fred McDowell, which he incidentally lists as his influences. Earlier in 2005 came from B.B. Wolfe already the CD “AKA” and now there is this small masterpiece called “Heart Worn Sleeve.” On the poignant title track plays, in addition to the Goldmine Pickers from Indiana, Bruce Bartlett on the stand-up bass who also recorded and mixed the album. The Goldmine Pickers, usually more rhythmical on their own bluegrass CDs, respect B.B. Wolfe’s emotional approach. All four, Brian, Sean. Jay and Luke position him up front with an understated play of bass, violin, guitar, mandolin and banjo. “Song For Dan” floats in nostalgic and even though the song repeat there is a satisfying rhythm, as is “Something Tells Me Its Not True,” though both reflect a hidden sadness. The intimate “Song For MJ” connects B.B. Wolfe to MJ Bishop, who sings along and plays accordion on zielsmooie “In-Three-Quarter Time.” B.B. Wolfe’s life is "be who you are and say what you feel" is fully exercised in all thesis melancholy songs. Hopefully B.B. Wolfe will continue with the Goldmine Pickers in his musical direction, a shady avenue where the songs are glorified under the trees where branches hang." www.rootstime.be Marcie - (Jun 1, 2008)

Michigan Folk Live

B. B. Wolfe - Heart Worn Sleeve It's not often I pop in a disc from an unfamiliar local performer and I'm not only thoroughly impressed, but I'm surprised almost to the point of being stunned. Mesmerizing, soothing vocals, combined with thoughtful superb writing. The voice is unique, but familiar, it recalls early Dylan of the basement tapes era, but there is more there, an additional warmth reminiscent of Greg Brown or Chris Smither. This is a honest CD, written and performed in the heartland with the unfettered Midwestern sensibilities of an artist possessing uncanny maturity for his sophomore release. I found myself listening to it over and over this afternoon. Highly recommended, one of my favorite CDs of 2008.- Steven Johnson Publisher

South Bend Tribune/INMichiana

IN MIchiana Review by Carrie Smith Category: Music "Heart Worn Sleeve" by b.b. wolfe with the Goldmine Pickers This sophomore album from local artist b.b. wolfe is sure to take root in the heart of anyone who likes authentic folk music. With a voice that expresses the grit of emotion, the poetry found in these nine b.b. wolfe songs explores a host of themes from love and lament to the artist's views on society. The lyrics are thoughtful and complex, and the music is a multilayered feast of acoustic sound. Performing on the album with b. b. wolfe , are the Goldmine Pickers, who add their meticulous bluegrass sound. The album begins on a sweet and somber note, with "Homespun Memories." The noteworthy "Winthrop's Lament" examines outdated thinking and a boy's perceptions of his father, and the title track, "Heart Worn Sleeve," rounds out the disc with evocations of darker Dylan. Voted Michigan's Folk Live Favorite of 2008 and recepient of RadioIndy's Gold Artist Award, "Heart Worn Sleeve" is fast-becoming a favorite in the indie scene. Each unique track reverberates with passion, longing, and love. This is traveling music - think of driving across plains, while thinking over lost love and lamenting things left unsaid. Masterfully done. IN

South Bend Tribune

"b.b. wolfe's debut album "A.K.A." is a road trip through a landscape of fear, sadness, hope, and triumph. It makes you want to hop a freight train and explore the possiblilites of the world. This is traveling music. Not your typical country album, b.b.'s vocals are a mix between Arlo Guthrie and Bob Dylan. The lyrics are poetic and poignant. They strike a chord with the listener's soul- from the part that feels despair, to the part that still has hope. From the song "Broken Ladder" to "And All" the listener is treated to an album that feels both comfortable and familiar. Like a great work of art, the guitar paints the broad strokes, while the dobro, steel guitar, and harmonica add the details that make this album rich and layered. Reminiscent of country music before it went pop, this is music to live by."