RANDY BURNS - Songs for an Uncertain Lady [USA folk 1970]
Burns, who was in the traditional Village acoustic folk mold when he started recording, was by his third album a folk-rock singer/songwriter, even if the songs didn't often use drums. Reserved to the point of recalcitrance, Burns sometimes recalls a way-lower-key (and also lower-voiced) Tim Hardin or Tim Buckley with his melancholy, though not quite gloomy, meditations on fragile and crumbling love affairs. As was habitual for ESP rock productions, these sometimes sound more like demos than polished results, particularly on those few cuts when a full band's involved. There are echoes of a lot of singer/songwriters here and there -- traces of Leonard Cohen and even James Taylor can be heard from time to time. And when several comparisons keep coming to mind, the chief drawback of the work is highlighted: Burns doesn't plow territory that's inimitably his, and while his songs are kind of melodic, they're not captivating. "Child for Now" is totally unlike the rest of the songs in that it's very much a fast-paced folk-funk workout in the style of tunes that Tim Buckley did in that vein, like "Gypsy Woman." "Deegen Street," the final and hardest-rocking track, is also wholly atypical of the record, uncannily mimicking the sound of 1969-1970 Neil Young.