Rolling Stone - 11/12/98, p.119
"...when singer-songwriter David Berman steps out from Malkmus' shadow and into his own indie-cowpoke groove, he lights up the place with his deep, almost Johnny Cashian voice and bright narrative skills..."
CMJ - 11/09/98, p.22
"...lyrics like....embody Silver Jews leader David Berman's gift for enigmatic, yet uncanny observational word play....the record is Berman's most fully relaized collection of tunes to date..."
Silver Jews: Stephen Malkmus, D.C. Berman, Tim Barnes, Michael Fellows, Chris Stroffolino.
Recorded at The Rare Book Room, Brooklyn, New York.
Personnel: Stephen Malkmus (guitar, background vocals).
Recording information: Rare Book Room, Brooklyn, NY.
Unknown Contributor Roles: David Berman; Chris Stroffolino; Mike Fellows; Stephen Malkmus; Tim Barnes .
At their best, David Berman's songs have always provided a personal narrative framed by distinctly American pathos, indie-rock's equivalent of early Band folktales. AMERICAN WATER, the third full-length by Berman's Silver Jews, maintains that same songwriting focus, but it clearly betters 1996's NATURAL BRIDGE by bringing back what had previously been the Jews' secret weapon: Stephen Malkmus' guitar. SM's playing has always straddled the line between noise-invested atonality and candy-colored melodicism, invoking experimental freedoms and classic tunesmanship in singularly melancholy lines, dualities that fit Berman's songs to a T.
On loosely written but deceptively wise profiles of Americana, the lyricist's images and the guitarist's notes intertwine to create something greater than the sum of its parts. It is a rural, rootsy sound full of punk's urban knowledge, but with far more credence paid toward a writer's turn of phrase and a sonic painter's improvisations than to any kind of folkie traditionalism. AMERICAN WATER plays as one generation's view of American society, jotted down in one's diary at a truckstop and at a tenement apartment.