The Deal: Greensboro singer-songwriter Bruce Piephoff sings of simple pleasures, and down-to-earth folks.
The Good: Bruce Piephoff speaks in tongues. This time around it's in Italian. Sogni d'Oro translates as golden dreams, a get-well message a friend sent to him while he was in the hospital a few years back. But that's just one tune. For the rest, Piephoff communicates through another language: down-home Southern -- his usual medium. "Mama" sounds like a Merle Haggard song performed by John Prine, with "gentle Southern people working hard in the clay in their hands." Piephoff encounters "several boxes of my best friends" on his whimsical ode to his favorite seasonal red fruit, "Don's Homegrown Tomatoes." He's bedeviled by beer bottle rattlin' NASCAR fan neighbors, 3 a.m. freight trains and hungry cats on "Can't Get No Sleep." He's a real folk singer -- his songs are of the folks he encounters in his daily life and his travels, and his gentle, generous, poetic soul is reflected in the way he portrays them.
The Bad: Piephoff never moved to Nashville to take advantage of his talent. He got married and started a family and stayed close to them -- their gain, your loss.
The Verdict: Piephoff says that his goal is not to make it big, just to write good songs, and on this, his 15th release on Flyin' Cloud, he's achieved that goal, just like on all the others. This time out it's a stripped-down sound, backed by bassist Pat Lawrence, with stringmaster Scott Manring buoying up Piephoff with ethereal fills and delicate counterpoint on mandolin, dobro, slide and acoustic guitar. This is language that everybody understands.