On March 26, 2022, American singer-songwriter John Batdorf of Yellow Springs, Ohio, celebrated his 70th birthday and apparently felt it was the right time to release a new record in the form of a six-track EP featuring “Side II ” as the title. My first review for ‘Rootstime’ of a record by this musician, who made his debut in 1967, dates back to 2007 when I was allowed to take a closer look at his first real solo CD “Home Again”. Before that, in the 1970s he had formed a duo with Mark Rodney as ‘Batdorf & Rodney’ and did the songwriter work and lead vocals for the group ‘Silver’ or provided session work and backing vocals for some of the big names in music history such as British rock singer Rod Stewart, disco queen Donna Summer and country singer Dwight Yoakam.
After his debut album, the pages also wrote a review of his album “All Wood And Stones” with cover versions of songs from “The Rolling Stones”, a record he recorded with James Lee Stanley in 2008. And his solo albums “Old Man Dreamin’” from 2010, “One Last Wish” from 2012 and “Beep Beep” from 2016 were also judged by us as high-quality alt.folk and acoustic rock albums. After that, as a frequent writer of songs, he released four other records that unfortunately never reached us. “Last Summer” and “An Extraordinary Ordinary Life” were John Batdorf’s last releases of songs written and recorded during the 2020 and 2021 coronavirus pandemic.
It is no longer necessary to clarify that he has completely mastered writing and singing songs. It is true that on this new EP he often evokes memories of the sound of Don Henley and ‘The Eagles’ in terms of voice. Let yourself be convinced of this with the accompanying audio videos of two of the six songs on “Side II”: first you hear the opening track “I Saved My Finest Love Song Til Now” and then the closing song “Daddy Doesn’t Love You” that we find the best song on this mini album
Other songs from this EP that we liked and that are typical of John Batdorf’s work are “If I Could Make The Whole World See” and “Are We Ever Gonna Be All Right”. The musicians who recorded this record with him are Lenny Frisch on steel drum, Dave Pearlman on pedal steel and Michael Dowdle on electric guitars, while John himself has played acoustic guitars, keyboards, bass guitar and percussion instruments. It is also remarkable that his son Matt has provided extra vocal support for the song “Dark Wind Blowin'”.
On the CD cover of “Side II” is a drawing of John in which his appearance in his twenties blends into what he looks like now at the age of 70. On the back of the cover is also an edited photo of a still very young John Batdorf and his wife Melanie who gave him twins Brett and Matt. Those two, in turn, have once again ensured a continuation of the “Batdorf” family by giving their parents the pleasure of several grandchildren.