Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Reviews:: David Myles - On The Line

After listening to David Myles new album, On The Line, I feel safe in deducing that it's the hearts of two people, who are committing their futures to one another, that are on the main metaphorical line. And I'll follow up that bit of sharp-eared interpretation by suggesting that Myles himself, like any artist who's building on the momentum of a well-received album, is certainly aware that he also has plenty on the line here.

Although the Halifax-based, Fredericton-bred Myles no doubt feels the pressure to deliver on his latest effort, you wouldn't know it. Although, I suppose, winning multiple songwriting competitions gives one the confidence to face such pressure head-on, but listening to David's songs always leaves me with the impression of him smiling as he sings, happy to be able to do something he loves. The fact that he was actually smiling a lot when we saw him perform at HPX probably helps form this image, but regardless, I think even his more somber songs have a sense of joy to them somewhere.

As a re-read of my review for David's last album indicates, I was pretty impressed by both the songwriting and the arrangements on display there. There's a definite progression on display this time around, with electric guitar being used more than I remember and adding a new element to David's sound. Yet elements that worked last time around are still featured, with the upright bass (provided by Hot Toddy's Tom Easley) playing a very prominent role throughout the album, and David's excellent trumpet playing adding a welcome flourish to a number of songs. The songwriting is equally strong, exemplified by a song like Not Be Afraid, which takes elements we can all relate to (fear & love) and builds a simple, yet beautifully smart song around them.

The very catchy, do-for-self anthem I Don't Want To Know opens the album with more of a rock groove than I expected, with solid drum work from Dave Marsh and guitar assistance from Matt Mays and Charles Austin, but it certainly works. I'm not sure if it was David's beatbox background coming back to the fore, but When Will We Learn is one of the best beats I've heard recently (brought Mahogany to mind). It's also a very well written song that captures how a lot of people my age view politics - often finding themselves taking a look at the extremists on both the right and left and simply shaking their head. This is a great beat though, some conscious Halifax MC should suggest a remix collab to David.

Piano maestro Bill Stevenson lends his hand to the fun, old-time church spiritual feel of New Friend, which takes the baton from last album gem When It Comes My Turn. The uptempo folk of Cape Breton provides the same kind of respite from the rat race that David advocates in the song, while the brief, country-splashed finger picking of If I Said Please exudes the kind of joy I mentioned earlier. Meaghan Smith joins David on the reflective, bossanova tinged If Today Was A Year, which is an inspired take on living each day to the fullest, regardless of your circumstance.

It seems there's general perception in Canada that there is plenty of musical talent in the Maritimes, well, if you're looking for a tangible example of that talent, David Myles is it. Plus, from my limited dealings with him, I can also tell you he's a heck of a nice guy. So, if you haven't checked out David's work before, you should absolutely be checking out On The Line today.

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Posted at 9:29 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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