Tasting 'Bitter Honey,' Tongue in Cheek

Monday's Pick

  • Song: "The Ballad Of Bitter Honey"
  • Artist: Eef Barzelay
  • CD: Bitter Honey
  • Genre: Folk-Pop

Eef Barzelay knows how to mix humor and heartbreak. As leader of the band Clem Snide, he's sung from the perspective of folk-pop lightweight Jewel and conspiracy theorist David Icke, and he's concocted cello-tinged odes to the music of Nick Drake, the uncertainty of the future, and a life spent wasting away on the couch.

Eef Barzelay

Eef Barzelay, a wry storyteller with a dark side. Alix Barzelay hide caption

itoggle caption Alix Barzelay

While he's at it, Barzelay frequently explores the dark underbelly of vanity, as his new solo album Bitter Honey finds him wishing that a loved one would die, "just to see how I would look." "The Ballad Of Bitter Honey" finds Barzelay adopting the persona of a scantily clad dancer in a hip-hop video featuring Ludacris — within a few seconds he lays the groundwork for a tongue-in-cheek look at a show-business bit player.

But the singer's gift for intertwining wryness with warmth takes over by the second verse, as his subject's back story begins to fill out: a death in the family, a side road to nursing school, a philosophy of getting ahead in life. By the end, Barzelay finds appropriately bittersweet profundity in what had once seemed like a throwaway joke.

Related NPR Stories

Purchase Featured Music

Bitter Honey

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Bitter Honey
Artist
Eef Barzelay
Released
2006

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.