Bart Ramsey’s Café Amnesia doesn’t fit comfortably in any one genre. His piano playing has a jazz flavor, while his thoughtful, reflective lyrics suggest a singer-songwriter background. “The Carpenter,” for instance, finds him contemplating Jesus, wondering, “was he distant from the flesh, / did he like hookers the best.” Here and throughout the album, Ramsey’s sense of humor lightens potentially heavy subject matter.
Energy bubbles beneath Ramsey’s trademark folk/jazz/anything-goes style, thanks not only to the singer-pianist’s efforts, but to those of Neti Vaan on fiddle, Tim Paco on bass and numerous others. The entire record possesses a real joie de vivre, poignant for being understated.
In a sad note unrelated to Café Amnesia, Ramsey and Vaan’s apartment building in the Bywater burned February 4. Vaan rescued her instruments, but Ramsey lost family pictures and manuscripts. They both lost the cars they purchased after losing their previous vehicles to Hurricane Katrina’s flood waters.