Bases Loaded

With a penchant for wryly observed story-songs and vocals reminiscent of John Prine, Chuck Brodsky has staked out a comfortable niche as a folkie with a sharp sense of humor and a love of baseball.

In honest folk fashion, Brodsky wears his sociopolitical proclivities on his sleeve. "Boys in the Back Room" depicts political puppeteers, but in "He Came to Our Town," Brodsky neatly cuts his cynical commentary on campaigning politicians with amusing details: "He said all the right words/ Quoted Bob Dylan songs/ He sounded hip/ Even though he quoted them wrong."

On "Gone to Heaven" (RealAudio excerpt), his ode to beloved baseball clown Max Patkin, he balances his obvious affection for the sport with hard-eyed acknowledgments of its rampant corporatization.

More typical of Brodsky's outlook are the hilariously skewed directions offered in "3rd Dead Cat" ("It's just past the 3rd dead cat/ The one that looks like a welcome mat").

Musically, Last of the Old Time is much more enjoyable and interesting than 1998's Radio. Multi-instrumentalist David Hamburger's slide guitar, mandolin, Dobro and pedal-steel flourishes give the album, especially "Schmoozing" (RealAudio excerpt) and the opening sing-along ditty, "Take It Out Back" (RealAudio excerpt), a warm, down-home feel.