So remember how I said I’d probably go on and on about Ernie Halter at some point? Can’t say I don’t keep my promises… Ernie’s got a new CD out, and I literally can’t stop listening to it.

Ernie’s latest offering “Franklin and Vermont” dropped a couple of weeks ago, and , of course, since I’ve been waiting for this CD pretty much since his last release “Starting Over,” (two years ago)  I went and got my copy right away. I’m not a reviewer. And I’m going to point out that biased as I may be, if the CD wasn’t good, I wouldn’t say a thing.

The thing is, this CD is more than just ‘good’, it is simply PHENOMENAL!

Every song on this CD had me simultaneously smiling, and I’ll admit, tearing up a bit, almost as if I were hearing these songs for the first time.  (And yes, I realize this makes me sound simultaneously bipolar and all fangirly, but you’re going to have to just deal with it).

Smiling, because, aside from being one of my absolute favorite musicians, he’s also one of my favorite people, and knowing even a little bit of where these songs come from, I can’t help but feel  a whole lot of joy mixed in with just a little bit of pride – you know, the kind of pride you feel when you see a friend do something they love, do it well and be successful at it. Tear up because, well, same as above. (Hey, I AM one of those girls who cries at the end of a chick flick, sue me!). Having been fan of Ernie’s music as long as I have been, it’s amazing to see how much he has grown, both as a song writer and as a recording artist. And, while I genuinely love Ernie’s previous offerings, this CD is by far his best one to date. There’s a joyous, almost euphoric feel to it, like you know, the guy who wrote and recorded this is just in a better place in his life than he was before. And again, this makes me ridiculously excited for him.

The first time I ever saw Ernie perform, I knew I’d be a lifelong fan. The thing about Ernie’s performances is that no matter who you are, or what you’ve been through, you can relate to whatever it is he’s singing up there on the stage.  What I love the most about this CD (and “Starting Over”) is Ernie has somehow managed to do something most artists, even some of my  other favorites rarely ever achieve, Ernie’s managed to capture that live vibe onto his recording. (I know there’s a process he uses, and it’s got to be mentioned in the reviews somewhere, but I am not a reviewer, nor do I read reviews or really know any of the technical jargon used in recording studios, I just know that I’m never fully satisfied with most studio albums, no matter who the artist, because most studio albums are so over processed that they tend to just leave me feeling like something is missing – not sure if that makes sense, but what I’m saying is I really wish more musical acts would utilize whatever process Ernie uses, because it really DOES make a difference.)

There are many standout songs on the CD, and while I’d love to name a favorite one, I simply can’t. The collection as a whole is simply stunning. However, the standouts (at least off the top of my head) are:

“Almost You” – I heard this one the first time I went to see him play a few years back – I loved it then, and was surprised it didn’t make it onto the last CD. Ernie’s tweaked it a bit since then and  the updated version is amazing. Glad he waited to record it!

“Angel” – This is one of those songs, that as a woman, you wish your guy felt that way about you.  Since many of Ernie’s fans have at one point or another heard the story behind the song and had the pleasure of meeting the lovely woman this song is about, you just want to thank whatever force it was that broke down Ernie’s car that day. (And if you DON’T know what I’m talking about, get yourself to an Ernie Halter show!)

“Gone” – The first time I heard this song, I cried.  The cello and sincere vocals on the CD version make this one of the most beautifully written and recorded songs about the difficulties of moving on after suffering the loss of someone you love I have ever heard.

“Yes I am” –  In addition to paying homage to Stevie Wonder, (LOVE me some Stevie!), this song’s message of “don’t mess with me” is one I’ve been feeling for weeks  now, so it’s been on constant repeat on my iPod ever since I got the free download of it off Amazon – (Yes, that IS me in my car belting it out like a crazy woman – what? ). It’s one of those songs, you KNOW you’re going to want to dance to when you see him perform it live (Hello, Hotel Carolina – Ernie with a full band – this song? Can’t wait!).

I’ve heard many artists say it’s flattering to have their songs held in such high regard that another artist would choose to cover them, but truly, Ernie is one of the few performers I’ve heard that can actually cover another person’s song and make it his own without ruining the integrity of the original. On “Franklin and Vermont,” Ernie covers the uber-talented Melissa Polinar’s “Meant to Be,” (seriously, if you haven’t checked her out, do so, immediately – wait, first finish reading this… then go check her out, I promise, you’ll thank me), Squeeze’s “Black Coffee in Bed,” (one of my favorite songs of all time – and I LOVE Ernie’s low-key version of it… Brings on a whole new meaning to the song for me), and Cold Play’s “In My Place.”   

The final song on the CD, “This Beautiful Ache,” which features Amy Kuney and another favorite of mine, Tony Lucca (whose latest release, “Rendezvous With The Angels,” comes out tomorrow – can we guess what CD I’ll be gushing about next??), is by far one of the most achingly beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. 

Ernie often thanks his fans for, essentially, giving him a job. Personally, I’m thankful to him for making music that I love. And again, I’m pretty sure I speak for anyone who’s ever seen him perform when I say, thanks Mrs. Halter for forcing those piano lessons on Ernesto Jr. , please continue to remind him that he (and all of us out here who love listening to him), owe you big time!

If my gushing on and on about these songs isn’t enough, check out these videos of Ernie performing some of them live: