Holding My Own
Dave OHot Pepper Records
116 Montague Road #1
North Amherst, MA 01002
A Review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
One of the best things about acoustic music is discovering new talent, be it at your local coffeehouse, your favorite folk-oriented radio station, or simply by word of mouth. Dave O's music is one of those special pleasures. Reared in New Hampshire and newly transplanted to western Massachusetts, Dave O is a welcome addition to that family of acoustic musicians.
Dave O could be a younger brother to Ellis Paul, Greg Greenway or David Wilcox. Clearly his skills as a singer/songwriter owe a great deal to those contemporary masters of the genre. His open tunings, clear, warm tenor vocals and expressive singing style make him an engaging performer. The themes he explores are those we all know well - leaving home, exploring the great unknown and finding both adventure and wisdom, finding love and losing it, and dealing with the frustrations of making your way in the world.
Dave O's first recording, the appropriately titled Holding My Own, brings the listener up close and personal. It represents one man's voice and guitar, without additional accompaniment or adornment. The intimacy of the solo guitar and the straightforwardness of the lyrics make you feel as if Dave O is speaking directly to you.
And that feeling of speaking directly to the audience begins right from the start, with the recording's first cut. Tell You All About Me is an introduction to the musician and his family of origin. It tells us where he comes from and where he's trying to go. It is warm and simple and immediately draws the listener in.
Holding My Own describes the singer's journey in such a way that it could be about any of us:
|Where hesitation ends fortune begins |
Changing the aspens to gold
Making the most of this meeting of chance
Filling my heart, filling my soul
Holding my own
The Thief is distinguished by its nimble guitar playing and the quiet grief it expresses. Dave O details the ease with which love can slip away in a voice that nails the painful resignation of being left.
One of the recording's best cuts is called Lemon Drop, which describes the difficulties of establishing a career. The sweet/tart taste of the lemon drop is the perfect antidote for the singer's mounting frustration:
|So I take a lemon drop...remedy reality fix |
Lemon drop...taste of sugar on my lips
Lemon drop...just in time to ease my mind
I'm comin' round again
I love Slowing You Down," which is all hooks, catchy beat and exquisite guitar. It's all about leaving a place that is safe and familiar in order to move out into an uncertain future.
Dave O's music reminds us of why we fell in love with acoustic music in the first place. In a voice with the warmth and familiarity of someone close, he tells us of those things that are most important to all of us. And he accompanies himself on acoustic guitar with the skill and ease of some of the best. I look forward to hearing more from Dave O. Holding My Own is a recording to treasure and to listen to over and over again.
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Edited by David Schultz