As frontman and songwriter for the country/folk-inflected Clem Snide, Eef Barzelay has always kept his ironic tendencies poignant enough to avoid smarminess. Whether he's singing about Enrique Iglesias' mole, covering Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful," or eulogizing horn-dog actor Bob Crane, Barzelay's focus is on his subjects' humanity, and their pitfalls and peccadilloes are never far removed from our own flawed characters.
Barzelay is on tour in support of Bitter Honey, his first solo record, released earlier this year. Full of the memorable metaphors and witty aphorisms that characterize Clem Snide's songs, Bitter Honey is a sparse, often painfully honest look at love and relationships -- another Barzelay strong suit. It's not without its lighthearted moments, tinged as usual with melancholy and world-weary wisdom: "The Ballad of Bitter Honey," told from the point of view of a rump-shaking dancer in a video, opens with the memorable line, "That was my ass you saw bouncin' next to Ludacris," and ends with the caution not to dismiss anyone lightly, "Don't hate me 'cause I know just what this world's about."