Goth Reviews: Ed Randazzo and Bret Alexander

Ed Randazzo and Bret Alexander SEE THAT MY GRAVE IS KEPT CLEAN (self-released)

Spike: Based in northeastern Pennsylvania, Randazzo has aligned himself with Bret Alexander of The Badlees. They’ve produced something that I thought was going to be a gloomy folk knock-off. Instead, Ed and Bret have produced something that is resolutely folk in style but appeals well beyond the borders.

Goth Woman: There has been some bandstand-hopping after Johnny Cash did his stripped-down “American” series, heavy on ambiance, irony and mortality. Nick Cave’s spook-house goth-gospel style made people take another look at Biblical symbols through the prism of post-punk culture. Unfortunately, imitators began to clutter the enigma.

Spike: I think Ed and Bret disregarded that fad. It sounds like they took a bottle, a hymn book, and their guitars down to the cemetery and formed their own ideas.

Goth Woman: The instrumentation rests on Ed’s bluesy-Appalachian vocals, some fiddle by Todd Kopec, and Bret on harmony vocals, guitars, mandolin, percussion, keyboards, accordion, dulcimer, a haunting harmonica, and some tasty Dobro.

They cover soul man Bill Withers (“Grandma’s Hands”) and blues legend Blind Lemon Jefferson (“See That My Grave is Kept Clean”), but the rest is all Ed. He traffics in traditional folk ciphers about wayfaring strangers, dealing with the Devil, ravens, miners, house carpenters, and bell-ringing. However, Ed refreshes these well-worn images, much like early Bob Dylan and the classic folk movement of the 1950s and '60s, and without seeming retro or sanctimoniously purist.

Goth Woman: I’m not even a fan of folk music, but I found this project to be entertaining, magnificently produced, and quite listenable, if not anti-cliched and poetic.

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