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Dave Berg: Not Quite So Alone

| September 13, 2011 | 0 Comments

You would think being a stunningly successful country songwriter at the peak of your career would be enough to keep a guy satisfied. You haven’t met Dave Berg.

In 2010, with enough laurels to last a lifetime, Berg disappeared into his home to write the album he always wanted to do — something no career planner would have advised him to do.

Now, with the release of his third and most fully-formed solo album, Not Quite So Alone, Dave has carved out an independent — yet parallel — space away from the Nashville world he has called home for more than a decade. And the results, while stunning, are unlikely to surprise anyone that’s familiar with the honest and earthy work he’s done with artists ranging from Reba McEntire to Darius Rucker, and Jewel to Keith Urban. “I just like music that’s real”, he says  “whether it’s delivered in the form of pop, rock, country or hip hop makes no difference to me.”

Through lyrics suggestive of Dylan’s, and a voice that’s been compared to Tom Petty’s, Berg stakes out new and refreshing territory in a career that has had far more peaks than valleys. Taken together, the 14 songs on Not Quite So Alone comprise a cohesive, sophisticated mood.

“I can’t say the timing for making this record was the greatest, but then again I can’t say I had much of a choice either,” he says.  “Sometimes as a songwriter you wonder if you have anything left to say; and if you find you do, you’d better take the time to say it.”

Born and raised in Portland, Ore., Dave actually cut his teeth in rock bands. He certainly never intended to become a country songwriter, but in 1995, found himself with a Top 5 hit, “I Want My Goodbye Back” recorded by Ty Herndon.

“Where I grew up, you didn’t listen to country. It wasn’t cool. But I kept watching CMT and I’d think, ‘Wow, the lyric in that song is incredible’,” he says.

So, with a hit single climbing the charts, Dave decided to take the plunge and make the move to Nashville.

“I came here because at the time, LA didn’t quite feel right for me,” he says. “I got here and I discovered quite an amazing community that crosses all genres — not just country. It’s kind of a well-kept secret that’s finally getting out.” Jack White, Ben Folds and the Kings of Leon, he points out, all live in Nashville.

He became a staff writer for such companies as Crossfire, Reba McEntire’s Starstruck Writer’s Group, which was acquired by Warner Chappell where he stayed for a couple of years.

Music publisher, Mike Molinar and Daniel Hill signed him to Cal IV, where he eventually started a long string of hits with major country artists.

“I think Nashville is the Harvard of songwriting,” he says, only half-joking. “And I’d venture to say that I’ve probably gotten more out of my education than most, considering the hands-on experience of writing with some of the best tunesmiths in the world.”

During these years, Dave recorded and released two of his own pop/rock projects, Three Perfect Days (1999) and Surface (2003).

But it was hard to dismount entirely from the five-days-a-week songwriting treadmill, especially given his run of success: In 2004 he scored his first #1 country song (“Somebody” recorded by Reba), which lead to a non-stop focus on songwriting for the country market, and a streak of hits singles.

This streak would result in five #1 songs, and many awards and honors including being named 2008 ASCAP Songwriter of the Year, 2007 Billboard and NSAI Songwriter of the Year and writing the 2007 Billboard & ASCAP Country Song of the Year, “If You’re Goin’ Through Hell” recorded by Rodney Atkins. Another number one song, “Stupid Boy” (recorded by Keith Urban) earned Keith a Grammy for Country Male Performance of the Year.

But, there he was in 2010, with a song he needed to get out of his brain and an itch to charge his creative battery. And once he started writing, he knew he had a lot more he needed to do for himself. So he took a break from his busy writing schedule and allowed himself to take a musical departure.

“It was hard for me to do, to just disappear when you’re at your peak,” he says, “And, truth be told, I’ve never had much luck playing it safe anyway. I was worried a lot of people would think ‘What have you done?’ But it turned out not to be that at all. They understand the need to go and do that.”

They’re going to love what they hear.

 

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