'Life is just a metaphor of everything we've done before,' sings Erich Russek in 'He Thought He Saw,' one of many thought provoking songs by the eclectic singer-songwriter that marries cleverly unpredictable lyrics with foot tapping Americana, and leaves listeners with a knowing grin and no doubt that Russek is a thinking man's roots rocker. Take his love ballad, 'Come Back To Me,' which swings merrily along while quoting six philosophers, one poet, and Albert Einstein. Then there's 'Transients,' where Russek impishly riffs on Simon and Garfunkle with the words, 'I am a rock/I like being a rock/All in all, it's easy work.' What's not easy work is sticking a label on this versatile musician, who during his childhood lived alternately in Tampa's Cuban quarter, where he was exposed to Cuban music, and the suburbs of Maryland, where he received classical training. Moving between these two very different worlds left Russek with a unique perspective and the ability to adapt, mix, and match musical styles and instruments. He is skilled in eight different wood and string instruments, and his songs draw on a diverse range of influences including punk, folk, swing, mariachi, Cajun, and Klezmer. PIH began in Los Angeles, when Erich served as front man for the band, which was voted 'Best Funk Band in California.' Following the release of the CD 'What Are You Afraid Of?' Russek teamed up with keyboardist Martha Renee to record the album Duck Inherits Spoon which recieved airplay on AAA stations around the US. Following a well-received tour, Russek once again shifted gears, combining his early exposure to Cuban musical sensibilities with more contemporary influences in Heartburn, a roots based album recorded in Florida that began the Russek tradition of surprising his audience; in this case with deceptively upbeat tunes that reward keen listeners with delightfully incongruous lyrics that skillfully dance between politics and poetry. Russek's next venture continued to break established boundaries when he reformed Poets in Heat as a nine-piece, and recorded the material for the self-released Nine Lives CD, which featured scorching violin and guitar battles with smooth backing harmonies. This melding of styles resulted in songs combining the energy of rock with the heartfelt emotion of folk, and satisfied the loyal followers of this multifaceted performer that Erich Russek is truly a master of surprises.
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