Todd Burge, “Live in Orlando” and “Imitation Life”
Music lovers might know Burge from his Mountain Stage appearances or from the “songwriter nights” he hosts periodically in his native Parkersburg. I first came to hear him, as did so many kids who attended WVU in the ’90s, as the singer for the Morgantown-based rock band 63 Eyes. His solo albums have found him following the path of a more traditional singer-songwriter, and “Live in Orlando” is a prime showcase for material that’s often funny, sometimes bittersweet, and nearly always filled with wit and wisdom. The live setting really plays to Burge’s easygoing, conversational lyrical style, especially on “Joseph’s Prayer to His Baby Son,” where he gets inside the conflicted mind of the Biblical figure who was Jesus’ earthly father, and on “Good Dog,” a sweet eulogy to his Weimaraner. Recorded in November at an intimate concert in Florida, this digital-only release is a fundraiser for the Food Allergy Network, which helps people who are, like Burge’s 9-year-old daughter, diagnosed with severe food allergies.
Back in March, Todd released his latest studio album, titled “Imitation Life.” Produced by Tim O’Brien, it features fuller arrangements of several songs that made it onto the live collection, like a marimba-infused recording of “Time to Waste Time” and a lovely version of the pleasantly loping “Change (For Clean Water)” with Kathy Mattea singing harmony to Burge’s reedy Appalachian baritone, as well as a bunch that didn’t, like the jaunty, Harry Nilsson-channeling “Ask Them To,” and “Longer,” a good old-fashioned love song. toddburge.com