David Wilcox - What You Whispered

What You Whispered

David Wilcox

79564-2

Vanguard Records
2700 Pennsylvania Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Rona Edwards
(Rebelrona@aol.com)

With What You Whispered, David Wilcox returns to basics. It's a very stripped-down acoustic album where the songs matter and the lyrics shine.

Wilcox is extremely introspective in this album, co-produced by Wilcox and fellow musician/songwriter Jim Infantino. I can't say that this is Wilcox's best work. It's not as slick as his album Underneath, which had some of the tracks receiving a lot of radio airplay, resulting in radio guest appearances and local contests for people to be flown to hear David live. It seemed that Wilcox's career was on the upswing with Underneath." I am unconvinced that What You Whispered will elevate him further. Not that it's a bad album - it isn't. It does take a number of listens before you get the message Wilcox is trying to convey. The lyrics are always well-written and satisfying; the music less so.

Wilcox examines relationships in this album. One of the more interesting songs, and my favorite is Start With The Ending:

The secret of a happy marriage
Maybe you should write this down
You want to keep a love together
The best way is to end it now
When you both know it's over
Suddenly the truth comes out
You can talk about your secret passion
You can talk about your restless doubt

When there's no pretending
Then the truth is safe to say
Start with the ending
Get it out of the way
Now there's no defending
Because no one has to win
Start with the ending
It's the best way to begin

This is a fairly mellow album that showcases Wilcox's guitar and voice, enveloping each song with thoughtful reflection.

One of the more beautiful songs was co-written by Beth Neilson-Chapman. Deeper Still is simply done, just Wilcox and his guitar, reflecting on the nature of love:

All my fears came crashing through
And met the fire of my soul
And I found my strength in forgiving you
And never even dreamed how far my heart could go

To give my life beyond each death
From this deeper well of trust
To know that when there's nothing left
You will always have what you gave to love

In the Broken Places tells of finding strength, while Rule Number One suggests you shouldn't hesitate to get up and run if your date is rude to the waiter.

Some great guitar work can be found in Step Into Your Skin, a song that describes the need to step inside yourself:

Every morning don't be thinking where you might have been
Every morning shake it out and step into your skin

As always, David Wilcox is an intelligent songwriter who uses irony and images to convey his message. With What You Whispered, he has stripped down the commercial vehicle of Underneath for a back to basics album.

After writing the review, I received the completed album, liner notes and all, and discovered that my idea of this stripped down back to basics album from Wilcox was the effect he was looking for. As Wilcox recorded the CD to demonstrate the songwriting process from the beginning notions of songs through their development into a full fledged album, we get to witness the creative process as it's happening and see its final result. It is a big risk for Wilcox to try to follow up his last successful album, but I think it's worth a listen.

Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz

Copyright 2000, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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