POP MUSIC REVIEW : Andersen Evokes Ghost of Troubadours

While the notion of what folk music is hasn’t been quite the same since Bob Dylan plugged in with a band, there is still much to be said for the voice of the lone troubadour in that music, with a strong case being made by Dylan contemporary Eric Andersen’s solo set Thursday at Bogart’s in Long Beach.

With songs drawn largely from his current “Ghosts Upon the Road” album, Andersen--working alone with a guitar and mouth harp--was able to evoke the solitary wanderer’s acute vision and romanticism that had marked his best early work. That was no mean task, considering the “Ghosts” album comes laden with a Winnebago-load of overly portentous and dramatized arrangements.

But released by Andersen’s direct stage delivery and evocative voice, “Listen to the Rain” revealed a fragile beauty, while the down-scaled “Too Many Times (I Will Try)” came across as an intensely personal anthem.

Announced as a “murder ballad” for people tired of love songs, the half-spoken “Trouble in Paris” favorably recalled Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks” narrative style. In a 13-song set that also included the mid-'60s’ “Close the Door Lightly When You Go” and “More Often Than Not” from 1972’s “Blue River” album, the only number which didn’t connect was the 10-minute autobiographical narrative “Ghosts on the Road.” The recollection of his scuffling days lacked the small details and insights needed to make the story breathe.