Music Review: David Wilcox – Reverie

Hi there…

Nearly two decades ago I turned on my local PBS television station and happened upon a program featuring David Wilcox, a folk artist with a storytelling style of playing guitar and singing. I was hooked. The next day, I headed to the local music store (this was before Amazon and Apple iTunes) and picked up a copy of the first album from him I could find.

That album turned out to be How Did You Find Me Here?. To this day, it’s still one of the most-played albums on my iPod, with “Eye Of The Hurricane,” “Leave It Like It Is,” and “Jamie’s Secret” the three tracks I can probably sing in my sleep. Beyond the amazing guitar playing, there’s just something about the way he constructs his songs that evokes an emotional response with his voice. That voice has a genuineness about it that expresses the joy or sorrow or simply tells it like it is.

A few years later, I picked up a copy of Big Horizon, which continued Wilcox’s trend for amazing music. The songs “Block Dog,” “Break In The Cup,” and “Strong Chemistry” have ended up in many of my playlists over the years. The stories of the highs and lows of human relationships combined with his music continued to speak directly to my heart at the time.

But somehow I lost track of Wilcox after that in the shuffle of daily life. So recently, when I heard that he had a new album coming out – Reverie – I thought I’d give it a listen. Though his subject matter has changed a bit in the last 10 years, his voice, guitar, and songs are still as great as they ever were.

With the world as messed up as it currently is, I was amused by “End of the World (again)”. “Tell me about the calendar the Mayans figured out / before they all disappeared in mystery / they didn’t have a future but it seems we have no doubt / they know the punchline of our history” says it all… An apocalypse is always just around the corner – and the “sun keeps burnin’ / world keeps turnin’ / we just can’t can’t go on like this…” and if the world’s going to end, we might as well enjoy it with a view of the fireworks. Tomorrow’s probably going to come anyway, right?

“Shark Man” has a groovy rhythm and picked beat as it compares a warped relationship to one person being in a shark cage and the other circling, waiting for an opportunity to strike. This is classic Wilcox for me with lines like “I draw you in with my style / big toothy grin / we haven’t fought for a while / I’m back again…” The analogy of the shark cage for a pair of lovers is not one I ever would have made and yet, it works so well!

Where the album really surprised me was with songs like “Stones of Jerusalem“, which hit me a bit like a Schoolhouse Rock or They Might Be Giants history lesson in Wilcox’ unique style. It details the history of Jerusalem and talks about how today’s Jews are just like the stones used to build the places and empires of Israel. The fact that anyone could work some of these names into verse blew my mind – “Sultan Suleiman restacked the walls again / Malik-al-Muattam had destroyed / Before him was Saladin who captured Jerusalem / From the Crusaders who won it in war”.

And there’s the political songs like “Pieces of Me” and “We Call it Freedom” expressing some of the sentiments running rampant through our country. The universal brotherhood of Christianity is tough to see when Christians can be seen fighting over how to make peace. And focusing on how we tortured people after 9/11 and the people who questioned the methods used were told they were un-American. Folk artists have always had the ability to speak out on tough issues and I have a lot of respect for taking a stand.

Reverie is Wilcox’s 17th album and was recorded in front of a live audience, but doesn’t have the earmarks of a live album. There’s no applause in the background or crowd noise of any kind, so I’m not sure what engineering magic was used to accomplish the feat. But the sound quality is amazing and I love hearing the live qualities of his voice and guitar work. The album is available now online and will be available on CD on November 23.

If you’re a fan of David Wilcox’s music, I’d encourage you to give Reverie a listen. He still has an amazing touch on the guitar and a great voice after 20+ years of playing and singing. I look forward to hearing with the next 20 years have in store. For more information about Wilcox, his music, and his touring schedule, check out his website at DavidWilcox.com.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up some of David Wilcox albums below from Barnes & Noble or Amazon:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Music Review: Playing for Change: Songs Around the World

Hi all…

To be moved by music is a wondrous feeling. Whether you are moved to feel, dance, sing, or play, there is something about music that reverberates through each of us. And even in a world feeling lost and afraid in the face of global changes, music is one thing that can bring us together.

Add to that the need to keep music alive and you find a group of people doing some remarkable things around the world. Even in the midst of poverty, war, or famine, the Playing for Change Foundation aims to share more than the music of the many musicians they have met during the course of their travels. They are building music schools so that these gifted artists can pass along their skills and passion to the next generation so this precioius resource is not lost.

The Playing for Change: Songs Around the World album is part of a multimedia effort to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. Using a mobile recording studio, a group of people traveled wherever the music took them. This is not a political or spiritual missoin, but an artistic one with the goal of helping people see that music can unite us as a people regardless of ideology, location, or religion.

Traveling to such diverse locations as Santa Monica, California, and Barcelona, Spain; Johannesburg, South Africa, and Kathmandu, Nepal; New Orleans, Louisiana, and Jerusalem, Israel; these people, led by Mark Johnson and a crew devoted to the singular mission of spreading peace through music. They found musicians in the United States, Europe, Africa, India, Asia, and the Middle East and recorded them live using their mobile equipment.

Songs Around the World includes a CD with ten tracks, from the classic “Stand by Me” and Bob Marley standards as “One Love” and “Don’t Worry” and the Hindi song “Chanda Mama”. It also includes a DVD with videos of five of the songs on the CD.

Though the CD is amazing and I don’t want to downplay its significance, it’s the DVD that really touched me.

Several months ago I first saw the video for “Stand by Me” on the web as the project was starting to get the word out. I remember it vividly because it touched an emotional bone in my body that hasn’t been touched for quite a while. Each of the artists who performed on the song added a bit of their indomitable spirits to this song, from Roger Ridley on the street in Santa Monica, CA, to Sinamuva outside in Umlazi, South Africa, to Clarence Bekker in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and everyone in-between.

And if you think about the technological feat it would be to not only record each individual performance, but then turn around and make different parts available for the rest of the artists to listen to while performing, it’s a huge undertaking. Think about the challenges of recording in wide open spaces, in the middle of a crowded area, or inside a building – none of which were ever meant to record audio in, let alone record it cleanly. Then add to that recording video of each performance and then weaving the performances, both video and audio, into a complete whole and balancing tracks.

Each of these videos is a work of art that faithfully weaves the lives, passions, and music of the artists into a tapestry of sight and sound. And though “Stand by Me” is still my favorite, as it was my first taste of this project, “War/No More Trouble” and “Don’t Worry” are my other two favorites out of the five videos available.

These amazing artists around the world were brought together virtually, proving once again that the world is getting smaller every day through the use of technology.

Through music, perhaps our world will one day find peace. Please keep that hope alive. Buy a copy of the Playing for Change: Songs Around the World CD or better yet, donate to the cause at the Playing for Change Foundation website. Join a movement and help this music touch more peoples’ hearts around the world.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up a copy of the Playing for Change: Songs Around the World CD/DVD at your local music retailer or online:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]