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Bruce Piephoff

Soft Soap Purrings
Speranza Recordings

Greensboro based singer/songwriter Bruce Piephoff has released such consistently strong albums that there’s almost a tendency to take them for granted. Soft Soap Purrings (a decidedly southern term describing “flattery intended to procure a favor”) is his 21st album since 1988, giving you some idea of how prolific he is. It’s also one of his best, a trimmed down dozen songs that demonstrate the range and assurance of his talent.

The title track sets the stage; a six minute word intensive ramble that moves ahead with the steady propulsion of a steam engine. It’s a great example of Piephoff’s knack for connecting seemingly disparate phrases in ways that seem wholly unexpected but always make sense.

“Maps on My Taps” is the artist at his most buoyant and playful; a Buck Owens like ditty that would have fit right in with any top notch Hee Haw episode. Aided by a lovely counter vocal courtesy of Claire Holley, it glides along at breakneck speed. And who can resist a lyric as delightfully convoluted as “trying to sort out the coulda, shoulda, woulda, the bad times just make the good times gooder”? Certainly not I!

Other highlights include the remorseful “Lost Boy” and a Dylan-like “Open the Window.” Even the oddly alluring “Chocolate Moose” with its intentionally hokey lyrics and Holiday Inn lounge arrangement works, largely because it’s so out of character for Piephoff that you cannot help but laugh along with the joke.

If you’re unfamiliar with Bruce Piephoff’s stellar catalog of recordings, Soft Soap Purrings is as good a place as any to start. But be forewarned: they can be mightily addictive, but as afflictions go, one could do far worse. ****  (by James Cassara)

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