Ben Sidran – Don’t Cry For No Hipster (2013)

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Don’t cry, indeed. For Ben Sidran — producer of Van Morrison and Rickie Lee Jones, co-writer of “Space Cowboy” with Steve Miller, sessions man with the Rolling Stones, NPR radio voice — being a hipster seems like such an effortless thing.

So much so that Sidran can transform something like “Back Nine” (his album-opening paean to that most suburban of things: golfing) into the very definition of in-crowd cool. It swings in that easy-going Mose Allison way, even as Sidran makes his game sound like something on par with a street-level hustle. On the title track for Don’t Cry For No Hipster (due for U.S. release via Nardis on April 2, 2013), Sidran half-sings/half-talks his way through a lament for these mid-century ways, adding a throw-back turn at the electric piano to drive home the point.

“Can We Talk” combines a beat poet’s repeated line (“are we rolling? let’s roll!”) with a polished, post-modern groove straight out of the Steely Dan playbook. “In the Beginning” uses the blues-inflected structure of the early Miller recordings that featured a young Sidran with this popsicle-toed delivery that must bring a twinkle to Michael Franks’ eye.

“Private Guy” recalls his successes at creating a very urbane funk on albums like 2004’s Nick’s Bump, while Sidran’s take on Monk’s “Reflections” effortlessly slips into a crepuscular romanticism — thanks in no small way to saxophonist Mark Shim’s simmering asides. Even his curious decision to take on Merle Travis’ “Sixteen Tons” works, if only — once again — by the force of Sidran’s essential hipness.

So, you ask: What is hip? To paraphrase the good judge Potter Stewart, we know it when we hear it. And we most certainly hear it with this one.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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