See my Spotify playlist to listen to more of the artists and songs discussed in this post.
Rick Berlin has repeatedly told me that he is “influenced more by what’s around him,” rather than any particular artist. However, he does have a few favorites and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Berlin seems drawn to musicians who have made careers without comprising the integrity of their craft.
Leonard Cohen may be 10 years older than Rick, but they share both the stamp of a unique voice and a style of storytelling through their music. Cohen, who is 77 years old, just released a new album called “Old Ideas,” which is reviewed here on NPR, along with an illuminating interview with Terry Gross on “Fresh Air.”
Tom Waits floats between genres of rock, experimental, jazz, and blues. The 62-year old has released an album relatively recently — his first in seven years — in October 2011 called Bad As Me. Waits has arguably one of the most distinctive voices in the industry, and I can’t help but think of him when I hear Rick’s voice slide down his wide range from falsetto to raw and gravelly notes. For a taste of Waits quirky personality, check out this “Private Listening Party” for Bad As Me.
A final favorite singer/songwriter of Rick’s, and representing the ladies, is Joni Mitchell. Here she sings “A Case of You.” Berlin’s solo album “Me and Van Gogh” comparatively has much of Mitchell’s characteristically sparse style throughout his songs.