Paul Bergmann Gives So Much on Nothing At All

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My love for Paul Bergmann came about accidentally. He shared a bill at the Bootleg in August of 2016 with strong favorite of mine at the time, Oh Pep!; I hadn’t heard his music or even his name before the show, so I had no reason to anticipate anything revelatory. But once he began playing, I was instantly drawn to his sultry voice, expert whistling, and soft auburn locks. He released an album shortly after that performance, and I got to see him live again the following month. That record, Stars and Streams, was sparse and heartbreaking, feeding into my image of him as a tortured, vulnerable singer-songwriter. But his latest effort, Nothing At All, shows a side of him I didn’t know–still fairly tortured, though this time as a burgeoning socialite, enjoying even just the smallest of life’s joys.

If there is any disappointment I have surrounding this ten-track work of art, it’s that “Coffee Wine Water Tea” never took off as a meme. Though far from a concept album, Bergmann still writes with about his own humanity, incorporating habits into his lyrics, such as these odes to his favorite beverages. Each drink has its own personality and spiritual effect, too, as Bergmann describes. But these aren’t baseless musings; he’s also sipping tea in Topanga on “California, My Lover,” and watching a mug of coffee cool in “Blue Light of Day.” The images create a web of emotions, overlapping and illuminating what words cannot so explicitly convey. It is all part of the brilliance of Bergmann’s poetry.

His sonics are similarly brilliant. Again, another reason why discovering him at a live show was so impactful–nothing is quite as electric as being in the same room as a talented musician at work. Much of the record depends upon the guitar, but there are quirks throughout, notably the opening cyclone of strums, cymbals, and strings on the title track. “Coffee Wine Water Tea” also has a fun, almost tropical synth on it, with chirping notes in the final bridge that leave me happily exhausted. But most of the time, Bergmann is simply an expertly emotive folk singer, and the genius of his epic ballad, “Emma, From the Valleys of Her Heart,” a song that highlights his unyielding tenderness among harmonicas and hi hat taps, cannot be ignored.

Bergmann already has a new EP, Night Unfold, due for release on February 2. If it follows in its predecessor’s footsteps, my love for this songwriter will only continue to bloom. 

Paul Bergmann | buy Nothing At All | website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Soundcloud | Bandcamp


<a href=“http://paulbergmann.bandcamp.com/album/nothing-at-all”>Nothing At All by Paul Bergmann, Brendan Eder</a>

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