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New Release! Angels, Lovers and Fools is now available.

'Angels, Lovers and Fools' is Boston-based singer-songwriter Craig Sonnenfeld's fourth release. Craig is an artist whose songs have been played on over 100 radio stations in the United States and abroad. This work continues to showcase Craig's thoughtful but emotional songwriting, clear finger picking style (he learned from legends Philadelphia Jerry Ricks and Paul Rishell) and middle baritone voice that songwriter Rob Siegel describes as one which 'you hear and think, wow, I could listen to him all day!'.

Many of the songs are bittersweet works of love and loss, but there are also some blues numbers mixed in such as the rocking 'Two Timin' Woman' and 'Ain't Gonna Cut It', both accompanied on blues harp by virtuoso Annie Raines.

Other songs such as 'Box of Broken Glass' and 'Every Little Lie' display a haunting country influence. Produced by Steve Friedman and tastefully accompanied on cello, bass, mandolin, and harmonica by some crack Boston musicians, the album can go from a heartbreaking number of a lost friend in 'The Ones You Left Behind' to a raucous comic description of modern work and family life in the hilarious 'Aggravation'.

Songwriter Bob Franke has called Craig 'a songwriter of intellect and heart'. That description really hits the mark on this new work of ten original and entertaining songs.


    1. Every Little Lie
    2. Two Timin' Woman
    3. Box of Broken Glass
    4. November's Song
    5. Ain't Gonna Cut It
    6. Aggravation
    7. The Ones You Left Behind
    8. The Last to Know
    9. She's My Lucky Day
    10. All My Better Angels
                 

Angels, Lovers and Fools is available through
Nimbit Music or at any of Craig's live shows.
For reviews of Craig's first two CDs, Storm Clouds Rising and Reverie, follow the link.


    1. Diamond Dove
    2. Hills of Wicklow
    3. Lately
    4. Since You Said We're Through
    5. I'm No Longer Waiting
    6. Can't Go Back Again
    7. Lucky So and So
    8. New Love Song
    9. Brand New Day
    10. Heart of a Man
                 

Heart of a Man is available through
Nimbit Music or at any of Craig's live shows.
For reviews of Craig's first two CDs, Storm Clouds Rising and Reverie, follow the link.


                 

Storm Clouds Rising is available through
Nimbit Music or at any of Craig's live shows.
For reviews of Storm Clouds Rising and Craig's first CD - Reverie, follow the link.


    1. Junebug
    2. The Joke's On Me
    3. The Only Promise
    4. Talkin' Cubicle Blues
    5. Bantry Bay
    6. Two AM Blues
    7. Wayfaring Stranger
    8. Now That I'm A Geezer
    9. Hills Of Wicklow
    10. Too Young, Too Poor, Too Bad
    11. The Song That Never Came
    12. You'll Always Be There

                 
Reverie is available through CD Baby or at any of Craig's live shows.

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Reviews

'Tradition' in music is a cry from the heart. It reminds us of our frailty and how much we need each other. We depend on it to recognize our loves and exorcise our demons. These original songs evoke tradition in every measure. Craig Sonnenfeld gives us childhood, bereavement, wisdom, romance, nature, regret. Nothing is compromised. His spirit does not make us feel good; it fills us with joy. -Terence Hegarty

Craig Sonnenfeld is an incredible singer-songwriter on the Boston scene, and this CD really captures his talent. Great guitar playing, artfully crafted lyrics and melodies, and a voice with deep rich tones. Can't wait to hear more from this artist! -Patti DeRosa

What a pleasure to hear an artist's first release that is original, creative and beautiful! The lyrics grab our attention as we listen to how the stories unfold. The beautiful melodies are sung in a soothing voice and laid on top of clean finger picking and subtle chord changes. Eleven of the twelve songs were composed by the artist, but even the one traditional folk song, "Wayfaring Stranger," has the original sound of this artist. He has clearly found his own voice, and I look forward to hearing his future releases. -Ron Greenblatt

I was impressed by the overall sound and production values, and the correct impression you give on (Storm Clouds Rising) that you're a songwriter of intellect and heart. - Bob Franke

Craig Sonnenfeld has one of those great middle-baritone voices, like John Gorka in the early 90's, or Stan or Garnett Rogers, that you hear and think, wow, I could listen to him all day.
- Rob Siegel

Craig's music stands up against any of it out there! - John Schindler

Older and Wiser: A Review of the Music of Craig Sonnenfeld

There is knowledge that comes with experience and there is the more refined knowledge, that which we call Wisdom, that comes with experience over time. It has been my great privilege to be able to write this review of two CDs worth of music by Craig Sonnenfeld, a Boston-area singer/songwriter whose accomplished musicianship and lyrical wisdom are equally worthy of note.

This is my first time reviewing two CDs from the same artist in a single music essay and it has been an experience with a great deal of merit. Perhaps the greatest barometer for measuring an artist is not a single work, but the arc and growth of his or her work over time. With that in mind, I offer the following thoughts on Craigs two CDs, Reverie, recorded in 2004 and produced by Steve Rapson, and Storm Clouds Rising from 2005 (New Roots Records, www.newrootsrecords.com), produced by Craig and Steve Friedman.

In introducing new artists to our readers here at New Mystics, I am often inclined to reference mainstream artists to create a common language of art. In Craigs case, the comparisons are somewhat heady, as you will see, and deservedly so. Decades of life have gone into these two CDs, both with guitar in hand and not. Because he is writing about a long life well lived, I sense the same depth of perspective shown in the latest albums by Bob Dylan and Tom Petty and, albeit without the pain, of the last works of Johnny Cash (you can read my tribute to Johnny on my Literature Page).

So, to the business and biography, and then on to the music.

Both CDs are available through Craigs website, www.craigsonnenfeld.com, where you can also read some other reviews and find out some cool things about Craig not contained in this review. There was also a short article on Craig at www.insiteboston.com/Jan06/music.html . The article refers to Storm Clouds Rising as a somber romp, which seems to me to be a contradiction in terms, with little comic relief and a low mood. Not to take umbrage with a fellow reviewer (our work is, by nature, highly subjective) but I hope this review does a better job of representing just how varied and nuanced Craigs second CD actually is.

Craig, who originally hails from Atlantic City (Jersey in the house!), had left his music behind for more than twenty years and Reverie, his first release, marks his return to playing, writing, and performing, inspired in part by a trip to see the Rolling Stones in concert and mostly by the encouragement of long-time friends. In his youth his guitar teacher was Philadelphia Jerry Ricks who was playing at the time with Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, and Skip James, and Craig aptly demonstrates all he learned. He thanks several Boston area Open Mic hosts on the liner notes for Reverie, and he also played in Jersey in 2005 at the New Jersey Folk Festival at Rutgers University and at the festival in Ocean City, NJ where Tom Rush headlined. His music is played regularly on Jim Albertsons Down Jersey Jim show on WSNJ in south Jersey. Craig has also played twice at The Bitter End in NYC, where he was part of the singer-songwriters showcase. His CDs have also been broadcast internationally in Belgium, Canada, Germany, Israel, and the Netherlands.

Reverie is just Craig and his guitar, easing back in as it were, and he wrote all 12 songs except for Wayfaring Stranger, which is a traditional tune. In the folk tradition, no song (on either CD) is less than 4 and a half minutes and one runs 7 and a half. The cover art on Reverie was done by his daughter Amanda.

Junebug is a ballad about his fathers death that establishes him firmly in the singing storyteller tradition, a role he plays out with passion, insight, and success throughout both CDs. The Jokes on Me evokes the bittersweet songs of Jim Croce. Talkin Cubicle Blues is an autobiographical piece with no small amount of humor in the tradition of such Talkin Blues folksingers as Bob Dylan. Bantry Bay brings to mind the strolling minstrel vocal quality of Glenn Yarbrough, a quality that is equally strong on the wryly humorous and insightful Now that Im a Geezer. Two AM Blues has a deep southern-style Blues feel thats hard to ignore, while Craigs arrangement of Wayfaring Stranger has all the haunting qualities of some of my favorite songs on Storm Clouds Rising. Hills of Wicklow borrows from the Irish ballad tradition (there are songs on Storm Clouds Rising that also have a feel that brings to mind the emotionally loaded songs of Andy M. Stewart and Tommy Sands). Craig seems to have thought a lot about the comings and goings, the joys and sorrows of Love, as any poetic folksinger must, and there is much for the listener to think about in turn on The Only Promise and the last three tracks on Reverie, Too Young, Too Poor, Too Bad, The Song that Never Came, and Youll Always Be There.

In general, Storm Clouds Rising is a richer and more complex disk (which is not meant to take anything away from the overall atmosphere of Reverie), featuring several guest musicians (Steve Rapson on electric guitar, Steve Sadler on dobro, Valerie Thompson on cello, Lee Adler on keyboards, and Deb Blackadar on percussion), no more than two playing on any given song. This sparse arrangement really helps to draw focus to the depth of Craigs lyrics and his talent with the guitar. Storm Clouds Rising has been garnering high praise from no less than Bob Franke, and its easy to see why.

Rope of Sand, the lead-off tune, is a Western ballad in the style of Ghost Riders in the Sky, Garth Brooks Lonesome Dove, and Dylans Romance in Durango, and, of course, the songs of Johnny Cash. Craigs songwriting universe appears to have expanded out from the solely autobiographical to the more general Human Experience between the two CDs, and this change is couched in a larger historical context that manifests throughout the CD. For instance, Rope of Sand is thematically echoed on the last song of this 9 song set, Ten Steps to Climb, which tells the story of a Civil War era ex-soldier awaiting his hanging in a prison for the crime of killing his wifes lover.

Sweet Liza Jane has a bluegrass feel with nice dobro work. Craig further explores the bluegrass style in a more vigorous way on Devil on the Run, which immediately brought to mind the awesome guitar work and rich vocals of Dan Tyminski, of Alison Krauss and Union Station. This is definitely one youll want to turn up loud!

There are several haunting compositions on Storm Clouds Rising. Anne Frank s Eyes is beautifully played and heartfully wrought, and according to some correspondence from Craig, has been getting the most attention. The lyrics were posted in English and translated into German by a multicultural youth website from Oberhausen and included in an article they did on Bergen-Belsen, the concentration camp where Anne Frank died (http://www.multi-online.org/downloads/dailynews/daily_news_7.pdf). It has also been played on the Midnight Special radio show (in a set list that included Tom Chapin, Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel, Pete Seeger, and Janis Ian). The song was also syndicated nationally on XM satellite radio and 70 other stations. Masquerade has especially atmospheric cello playing. My favorite track on both CDs, and, to me, the most haunting (for those who know me, you can see the correlation) is The Lighthouse, which tells the story of a young New England husband lost at sea and the widow he leaves behind. Id like to quote the chorus:

She begged me not to sail so soon
But I was young and heard the tune
Of southern winds and ancient ruins
Of whaling ships and gold doubloons

I think these four lines will give you a very good idea of just how talented a writer Craig Sonnenfeld really is. The Lighthouse has been getting regular airplay on both WOMR FM on Cape Cod and Troubadour AM in Shirley, Mass. WOMR had Craig into the studio for an interview as well.

Catch Some Zs echoes the more humorous numbers on Reverie, with a wonderful tick-tock rhythm added by Deb Blackadars percussion.

The Very Last Time that We Kissed features some interesting keyboard atmosphere from Lee Adler and a subtle effect on the vocals that works very well.

I want to mention in closing that Craig is holding the same Ibanez acoustic with cutaway body that I have been playing for the past two yearsIm still searching for all those great licks that hes managed to find in there Craig, if youre listening, Im ready to learn them!

Craig let me know that he??s got a full CDs worth of songs already written and should be back in the studio in 2007.

I cant wait to hear what comes next.

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Lyrics


DEVIL ON THE RUN
SONNENFELD - 2005

Woke up this morning,
Saw dark circles 'round the sun,
Woke up this morning,
Saw dark circles 'round the sun,
Honey, you're so mean
You got the devil on the run.

Storm clouds rising
And they're headed for my door,
Storm clouds rising
And they're headed for my door,
Well, if you don't want me, honey,
What do I need you for?

How many times
You gonna kick me when I'm down,
Said how many times
You gonna kick me when I'm down,
Well, I've been mistreated
But I keep on comin' round.

Well, I feel uneasy
When I hear that north wind howl,
Said I feel so uneasy
When I hear that north wind howl,
And I feel so restless
Like a black cat on the prowl.

This time tomorrow
Goin' down that dark highway,
This time tomorrow
Goin' down that dark highway,
Yeah, I'll be leavin'
Long before the break of day.

Woke up this morning
Saw dark circles round the sun,
Woke up this morning
Saw dark circles round the sun,
Honey, you're so mean
You got this devil on the run.

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CATCH SOME Z'S
CRAIG SONNENFELD - 2004

When I get home from work
and feel like going berserk
there's one thing I can think of
that can cure it.
'cause I work the late shift,
it give me quite a lift,
and when I get home
I always ask you for it.
to me it's quite a treat,
to me it can't be beat
though I know to lots of folks
it might be boring
when I get into bed,
pull the sheet over my head,
close my eyes and then roll over
and start snoring.

Baby, baby, please
just let me catch some z's,
my head's down on my knees,
can't even eat my peas,
so kiss me once good-night,
and then turn out the light,
baby, baby, please
just let me catch some z's.

I don't feel too alert
I just might lose my shirt
on the weekend when i go out
to play poker.
I'm not seeing things right,
and my goldfish got a fright
when I reached out in the night
and tried to stroke her.
now lots of people think
that I am on the brink,
and even my old shrink
thinks I need zapping,
but I know what will work
my duties I won't shirk
if you just allow me
to complete my napping.

Baby, baby, please
just let me catch some z's,
my head's down on my knees,
my mind's in the deep freeze,
so kiss me once good-night,
and then turn out the light,
baby, baby, please
just let me catch some z's.

I've got to get some rest
for tomorrow morning's test
at my job to try to get
to the next level,
they work me to the bone
and then they send me home
and all my neighbors say
I look disheveled.
I eat soup with a knife
and ask if you're my wife
and then ask you to shout
your answer louder,
you tell me i should quit
if I did you'd throw a fit
so I fall asleep with my face
in the chowder.

Baby, baby, please
just let me catch some z's,
my head's down on my knees,
can't even eat my peas,
so kiss me once good-night,
and then turn out the light,
baby, baby, please
just let me catch some z's.

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MASQUERADE
CRAIG SONNENFELD - 2005

Everyday's a masquerade
And I wear a different mask
Depending on the time of day
And depending on the task,
There's one that I wear for my friends,
One for the work I do,
But I threw away my favorite one
That I used to save for you.

Everyday's a masquerade,
It's like a costume ball,
Did you see the bright one that I wore
Right before I took the fall,
With a face so full of laughter
Just like a child at play,
It's so different from this one I wear
That's covered all in gray.

Like a drifter in the rain
Or a cloud across the moon,
The feeling here is just the same
When a love is lost too soon,
So I walk an empty mile
And pretend that I don't see
The masks that all the people wear
Who are staring down at me.

Everyday's a masquerade
But I won't put one on
Tomorrow when I wake up
In the white haze of the dawn,
I search there for the endless light
And try to find a prayer
To protect me now from wearing
The blue mask of despair.

Like a drifter in the rain
Or a cloud across the moon,
The feeling here is just the same
When a love is lost too soon,
So I walk an empty mile
And pretend that I don't see
The masks that all the people wear
Who are staring down at me.

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ANNE FRANK'S EYES
SONNENFELD - 2005

I gaze into your dark eyes
in a faded photograph,
a picture of a young girl
who's forgotten how to laugh,

taken right before the night fell,
and the boots marched by your door,
taken right before the blood ran
and they still demanded more

how confused were you when old friends
turned against you with their lies,

and how I wish I could have saved
just a single tear
from Anne Frank's eyes.

you hid up in the secret rooms
above your father's shop,
and tried to keep believing
the insanity would stop

well, how'd you stay so quiet
with the hellhounds on your trail,
and how'd you stay so hopeful
that you'd live to tell the tale,

'though you wanted to let out a scream
it would have been unwise

how I wish I could have saved
just a single tear
from Anne Frank's eyes.

after two long years of loneliness
in your cold attic cell
the boots came crashing through the walls
and they sent you all to hell

where you lived in quiet defiance
but just briefly while you could
'til your life gave out beneath the
weight of a ravaged childhood.

now, can you forgive us fools who dwell
under somber skies.

oh, how I wish I could have saved
just a single tear
from Anne Frank's eyes.

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ROPE OF SAND
SONNENFELD - 2005

I'm writing you this letter
on a dusty, moonlit trail,
and hope that you will help me understand
how the bond that was between us once
has now become so frail,
and the only tie that binds
is a rope of sand.

Once I held you in my arms,
it wasn't long ago,
but then I let you slip right through my hands,
your brother came between us
and tonight I just don't know,
if we'll ever have more
than a rope of sand.

A rope of sand between us
can it ever be the same,
a rope of sand between us,
is it all that will remain.

It's true, I tracked your brother down,
did what I had to do,
he was the leader of an outlaw band,
and as the marshall of the town
I hired out a crew,
and he surrendered when
he saw he was outmanned.

When I brought him to the courthouse
with those chains upon his feet
the sight for you was too much to withstand,
you told me I betrayed you,
that my love was just deceit,
now the only tie that binds
is a rope of sand.

A rope of sand between us
can it ever be the same,
a rope of sand between us,
is it all that will remain.

I protested my innocence,
your brother did the same,
but the judge said that
his crimes, they all were planned,
for the killing of a bank clerk
he alone received the blame
and the hangman's rope,
it wasn't made of sand.

Now I sit along the canyon edge
and watch the clouds roll by,
their movement is beyond my own command,
I think about you often
and I always wonder why
the only tie that binds
is a rope of sand.

A rope of sand between us
can it ever be the same,
a rope of sand between us,
is it all that will remain.

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SWEET LIZA JANE
SONNENFELD 2005

Sweet Liza Jane,
you keep me laughin' in the rain,
Sweet Liza Jane,
you keep me laughin' in the rain,
whenever I feel blue
I think of all the things you do,
Sweet Liza Jane.

Sweet Liza Lane,
your kisses taste like sugar cane,
Sweet Liza Jane,
your kisses taste like sugar cane,
when I get home i swear
I'm gonna hug you like a bear,
Sweet Liza Jane.

Sweet Liza Jane,
this world could drive a man insane,
Sweet Liza Jane,
this world could drive a man insane,
but I've got your precious love
and the yellow moon above,
Sweet Liza Jane.

Sweet Liza Jane,
you know I never would complain,
Sweet Liza Jane,
you know I never would complain,
if you always stand by me
I'll give you anything you see
Sweet Liza Jane.

Sweet Liza Jane,
our love's not easy to explain,
Sweet Liza Jane,
our love's not easy to explain,
but don't you ever doubt
I could never do without
Sweet Liza Jane.

Sweet Liza Jane,
you keep me laughin' in the rain,
Sweet Liza Jane,
you keep me laughin' in the rain,
whenever I feel blue
I think of all the things you do,
Sweet Liza Jane.

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TEN STEPS TO CLIMB
- SONNENFELD 2005

I never meant to run,
I never meant to hide,
I never meant to unleash the darkness here inside,
but it took me by the hand,
and it took me by surprise,
and it took me to a wasteland
where even angels cry,
now I wait to hear the footsteps
of a dozen prison guards
who will lead me to the gallows
but release me from these bars.

It's just ten steps to climb
and a long way to fall,
I can see a dark star shine
so high above this old gray prison wall.

I didn't mean to kill him,
I'm not that kind of man,
I'm not like these hard cases
who just don't give a damn,
but my six-gun spoke like thunder
with a mind all of it's own
when I found you lying with him
my head just turned to stone,
and I didn't blame the soldiers
who they sent to hunt me down,
'though I fought hard for the union
now their shackles keep me bound.

It's just ten steps to climb
and a long way to fall,
I can see a white star shine
so high above this old gray prison wall.

I'm weary of the battle
every day just to survive,
I'm longing for the morning
of the next world to arrive.

So, farewell to you, my love,
we were just not meant to be,
farewell to you, my preacher,
your words did comfort me,
put a white rose on my headstone,
think about me when you can,
I hope that you remember,
I was once a decent man,
now I go to meet my savior,
but I don't know what to say,
I'm hoping he'll just greet me
and wash my sins away.

It's just ten steps to climb
and a long way to fall,
I can see a white star shine
so high above this old gray prison wall.

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THE LIGHTHOUSE
SONNENFELD - 2005

She climbs the wooden, winding stair,
a red string ties her auburn hair,
she keeps the lighthouse burning bright,
a beacon for lost ships at night.

Our wedding was a humble one,
they played the fife and beat the drum,
before too long I took my leave,
a sailor's wife , she'd learn to grieve.

She begged me not to sail so soon,
but I was young and heard the tune
of southern winds and ancient ruins,
of whaling ships and gold doubloons.

I told her not to fear for me,
the lighthouse safeguards men at sea,
she lit the oil lamp and then
I promised I'd return again.

A storm arose out on the sea
I took my shelter in the lee,
but mountainous waves our ship o'erwhelmed,
and tore it from it's stern to helm.

She begged me not to sail so soon,
but I was young and heard the tune
of southern winds and ancient ruins,
of whaling ships and gold doubloons.

It's fifteen years I did sail,
but she won't don the widow's veil,
Her lamp ignites a savage sky,
while one lone egret hears her cry.

She climbs the wooden, winding stair,
a red string ties her greying hair,
She keeps the lighthouse burning bright,
a beacon for lost ships at night.

She begged me not to sail so soon,
but I was young and heard the tune
of southern winds and ancient ruins,
of whaling ships and gold doubloons.

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THE VERY LAST TIME THAT WE KISSED
- SONNENFELD - 2005

The fog rolls in,
the tide rolls out,
the starlight floats upon the sea,
my hopes ride on thin wings of doubt,
their journey ends right here with me

A stranger waits under the pier,
she wears a shroud that's made of dust,
and I don't want to look away
but her voice keeps telling me I must.

I didn't understand your words,
the sound was muted in the mist,
I think you said it was absurd,
the very last time that we kissed.

There's no one here but you and I
and even that might not be true,
I'm not that sure about myself,
and even less sure about you.

I didn't see how you could know my name,
but it was carved into your wrist,
I only know that i could feel the flame
the very last time that we kissed.

The fog rolls in,
the tide rolls out,
nothing seems to be in place,
she says she's always known me but
I still have never seen her face.

The moon is down,
the pier's gone dark,
no one's standing on the beach,
and I still want to touch you but
you always seem so out of reach.

You were someone I could have done without,
but it just hit me like a fist,
this is the first time that I've thought about
the very last time that we kissed.

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