Flying Fish/Rounder Records
1 Camp Street
Cambridge, MA 02140
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
This is the first CD of new material by Mallett since the 1995 release In The Falling Dark for the Vanguard label. In between he did the live CD Parallel Lives. On In The Falling Dark, someone was trying to market Mallett, and ended with an overproduced CD that seemed to be trying to hide the songwriting. In Ambition the opposite occurs. Through every song we hear and enjoy the great songwriter that Mallett is.
All the songs on Ambition are candidates for covers by pop or country singers, and could become hits. It will, however, be very hard to give a more convincing version than Mallet's own. He may not be the greatest singer on earth, but his approach is simple, humble and straight. He is very much reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot and James Taylor at their best. His lyrics are simple and memorable. In the first song on the CD, Here In The City You Live In, he describes how he calls someone in a city he happens to be passing through:
|And I'm caught in between destinations |
A little change of plans
But I'm here in this city you live in
With time on my hands
For many people, and not only hobos, truck drivers and singers, the traveling life is becoming quite common. And many will identify with this situation.
In Wild In The Sixties, a soft rock song, Mallett laments the loss of the sixties ideals in a very effective way. Whiskey Talking, a song about a drunk, demonstrates Mallett's artistry and convinces us that "God loves a drunk," but not the people around him. You Can't Go Home Again tells us of the impossibility of traveling back into the past.
The sound is a very acoustic one, played masterfully by 4 or 5 musicians on each track. The recording is very natural making Ambition a very powerful addition to Mallet's already impressive discography. All the Mary Black and Emmylou Harris wannabes should look here for great songs to cover. And, isn't it time to give this man a Grammy?
And yes, one complaint: at forty minutes the CD is just too short. Each time it ended I asked myself if there was something wrong with my CD player. The songs are so good you just wish there were ten more....
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David Mallett, guitar, harmonica and vocals |
Steven Sheehan, acoustic and 12-string guitars
Byron House, bass
Russ Pahl, electric guitar
Larry Atamaniuk, drums
Kathy Burkly, drums
Steve Conn, accordion and Hammond B-3
Richard Ferreira, acoustic guitar
Andrea Zohn, background vocals and fiddle
Gerry Peters, keyboard
Produced by David Mallett and Rich Adler
Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz