Singer-songwriter Jeff Arundel looks like an angry man on the cover of his eighth record.
I'm not the only person who thinks that. "Five people have said to me, 'Why are you so angry?' I didn't realize I was that angry," Arundel said. "Here's the thing, C.J. — I have British teeth. So I don't like smiling. It's one of those things. I have wiggly British teeth, so subconsciously, I just don't smile that much."
Aren't there commercials on TV about people getting a new set of choppers in a day? "I would like to hear about that because I know people who have had braces, and I think I don't want to take the last good years I have and spend them wearing braces. I want to eat corn at the State Fair."
Being braces-averse probably means Arundel won't be doing anything dentally aggressive at the release party for his "Now We Go" album. It's at 8 p.m. Friday at the River Room, which is adjacent to his nightclub, the Aster Cafe at St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis.
Q: What does this title "Now We Go" mean?
A: In our family we have this phrase that developed. Sometimes families do this, I guess. It just means "Let's go," "Let's get together," "Let's do this now." Our family — me and my kids and their cousins; we've got a nice extended family that gets together. This phrase became something, and so I thought, "Geez, I want to write a song that memorializes that phrase." I did that, and I'm lucky my son Steele is an artist and a singer, so I sing a duet with him of this song. It means, "It's go time."
Q: Can you use the expression in a sentence, please?
A: Let me think. It's more of a response. You might be telling me something and I say, "All right, now we go." Can you come over and help me move? The answer would be, "Yeah. Now we go." It's a song people seem to get. We've been playing it live for a couple of years. People seem to understand it. No matter how angry I look on the cover, that song is positive and upbeat and feel-good.
Q: Do you have records or CDs at your home?
A: I still have my vinyl records from when I was a kid. I'm 61. … I probably have 10 records from when I was 13. I never got rid of them even though for a long time none of us had turntables. Now I have a turntable again, and I play those records.
Q: Turntables are back in style.
A: Back in style, and I bought the same turntable I had in college, found it online. It wasn't the exact one, but it's the same model. It's all come full circle.
Q: What artists are on the 10 records you mentioned?
A: Because I really like the singer-songwriters, it's James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, Joni Mitchell and Carole King. Classics.
Q: You've got "Tapestry" by Carole King?
A: You'd better believe it. I have "Tapestry" on CD and vinyl. You bet I do.
Q: You mainly write romantic songs?
A: I do. Thirty years ago I had my first record come out, and pretty much since then I write romantic and sad songs. "Now We Go" is one of the happier songs I've written.
Q: Are there any good breakup songs on the new record?
A: Oh, yeah. There's a song, "End of the Road." It's a real good breakup song.
Q: What inspired that song?
A: Well. I think I just have that song inside me. It's pretty deep. I probably have written that song 60 times. This is one of the better versions of that song. I think that's just a feeling that's inside me. It's not specifically directed at any one incident. It might simply be a collage of feelings I've had.
I tend to be melancholy. Those records I told you about when I was 13 were melancholy. That's why I connected to them, I think. James Taylor and Carole King were good at melancholy.
Q: You really like Bill Withers. Have you met him?
A: I knew one person who had met Bill Withers. Other than that, I don't think anybody has met Bill Withers in the last 30 years. You can hear a song a thousand times, but a song like "Use Me" is so irresistible. He just had a way of keeping it so simple. In keeping it simple, it had such integrity. He had a magic way of doing that. His vocal style is so unadorned.
Q: You know that's a song about sex, right?
A: I know it, and I don't care what it's about. I just want to hear it and feel it.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9's "Buzz." E-mailers, please state a subject; "Hello" does not count.