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Archive for July, 2014

davidpoegodanthegirlGod & The Girl

David Poe

July 3, 2014

Think Indie / Charming Martyr (BMI)

 

 

Poe is a name that is undeniably associated with the surroundings of nineteenth century American literature. Edgar Allan Poe’s dark romanticism with themes of macabre, death and mystery always attempts to focus onto having a certain effect on the beholder. This also holds true for the modern Poe we are discussing today.

 

David Poe is an accomplished artist with roots in midwest of the United States. He has written and composed a multitude of songs and musical arrangements. Through the years he released three previous studio albums himself and contributed to the work of other established acts such as Duncan Sheik, Daryll Hall, Grace Potter, Thomas Dybdahl, Curtis Stigers and Oh Land. He also contributes his art to television, Broadway plays and modern dance. He does all this with a great deal of success with no obvious need to take the limelight.

 

Poe seems content to reach an audience of true supporters without necessarily seeking out the masses. With this approach, Poe manages to create the art he loves and believes in and this comes across magnificently. On his self-titled debut he serves up roughly hewn gems like Blue Glass Fall and Apartment. On his sophomore attempt “The Late Album” the singer/songwriter (though this term should be loosely applied to Poe, as his music reaches beyond the boundaries of this vaguely defined label) comes off more polished with the restrained Drifter which, in another era, would’ve become a pop classic, the artsy The Late Song (Je Ne Suis Pas Mort) and the literary, gritty testimony to a changing entertainment world in Deathwatch For A Living Legend.

 

Poe’s growth continues as he releases his next album, “Love is Red”. This is basically an in-studio live album. The beauty of this album is that it doesn’t rely on individual songs. It presents as a whole, with a vibe that is both solemn and vibrant, courtesy of the old bunker in Berlin in which it was recorded. If there’s one song I’d have to pick to symbolize this it’d be Wilderness.

 

The artist David Poe, who experimented with pop, rock, electronic, jazz and other influences fused things together in a way that displayed his personal convictions (I would refer you to the criticism of political and military actions in Gun For A Mouth, which Poe debuted live in 2003) and an artistic believability towards himself and his listeners. But since the release of “Love is Red” in 2005, Poe turned his attention to other projects and expanded into other media. He contributed to Broadway projects (Whisper House), motion pictures (Harvest, Shadowland) and scored two dance productions (The Copier, Shadowland) as well as produced records for established names in popular music (Regina Spector, Jenifer Jackson & The Brendan Hines). A studio album of his own, however, didn’t materialize until just recently.

 

David Poe returns with “God & The Girl” which instantly delivers on the promise left by his earlier work. The untamed and brazen yet wildly talented musician has transformed into a more experienced, balanced artist who learned to focus his talent into music that delivers in message, meaning and emotion. On this new album, Poe manages to connect to the listener with the simplicity of essentials. It instantly starts with the sweet Honey Moon where Poe’s soft and intimate vocals speak directly to everyone who’s ever felt romantic love. The penultimate verse perfectly delivers the message of that emotion.

 

Poe doesn’t strike gold with every song on the album but he manages to draw you in regardless. Lonely Like Me has a certain vintage feel to it with the plucking of the strings and the twangy arrangement. Let There Be No Longing sends a simple but powerful message and lyrically, to me, the strength lies in the final line: “Long for vengeance/long for mercy/not the memory of what could not be.”

 

Tafetta serves as a little break as it doesn’t rely on a gentle, melodic line but a more rhythmic and offbeat arrangement that glimpses back to some of Poe’s older work and could also draw a comparison to some of the work of his friend and contemporary, Duncan Sheik. Following with Wild One, Poe instantly hits his sweet spot. To me, this song connects the familiar sound I remember from the debut and “The Late Album” with the more mature songwriting this new album provides us with. The slight haunting undertone contrasted by that jangly guitar, topped off by slightly philosophical lyrics like “strangers become friends/it changes, breaks and bends/can we make amends/or is this the end?” is a package that ultimately represents why David Poe belongs to the highest standard of modern songwriters.

 

On When I Fly, Poe reaches back to the familiar sound from his earlier work. Maybe a little more than I had hoped because it sounds like could’ve come straight off The Late Album. And just when I thought the remainder of the album was going to drift off into a musical arrangement trip down memory lane, Poe shows his growth and added experience instantaneously. World Above doesn’t sound like anything he’s released before. Absolute restraint emphasizes the wondering and solemnity that fills the song that covers big questions of belief and existence. Here’s where Poe shows he doesn’t just make music but that his words and arrangements have meaning and substance.

 

Remember tells the story of heartbreak but at the same time it serves as a metaphor of how hard it is to let things go and how much it hurts to lose something or someone that once consumed such an important part of your life. Poe delivers this with vigor and a hidden urgency that emphasizes the message of the lyrics tenfold. Poe continues with the same theme in Thank You, though the tone is more spiteful and the rhythm has a latin-inspired touch to it that reminds me of creative twists by Santana or Calexico. Sometimes songs overpower you or grab you by the throat in the first second. That didn’t happen for me, but from the first time I listened to this song I was instantly intrigued. And I still am.

 

Remember the early 70s? When country & western, folk and rock & roll were all still alive in all its glory. That’s what The Devil reminds me of. The lyrics are relatively simple and straightforward. The melody is subtle and the whole thing is topped off with that typical timbre that makes the folk songs of that time sound so iconic. The album ends with a cloudy song titled These Are The Days that once again bridges Poe’s older sound with the more experienced person and artist he has become through the years. And he ends the album in style by sending us a message that we all journey through this life searching for the way that befits us: “Raise a glass to the past and to the soldiers/and faded friends and happy ends and to the old/may we all live as long as we like/may we all be as strong as the wine.”

 

“The God & The Girl” bridges a gap of almost 10 years. It is instantly familiar to those who were drawn in by David Poe’s older work but also stands as a strong testament to the experiences and growth Poe endured in these times. There’s a certain balance and, dare I say, quiescence to this album that ties things together. There’s no Blue Glass Fall or The Drifter on this album that has that direct pop sensibility though I could definitely hear songs like Honey Moon, When I Fly and The Devil on the radio and maybe even Thank You could even be a dark horse in that department.

 

Fans of the artistic singer/songwriter genre will heartily embrace this new album, while many other people who will likely never even hear of this release. This is a shame and I hope music aficionados and radio professionals alike are going to pick up on this album because it shows the artistry and uniqueness of a worthy singer/songwriter. It is likely the most crowded genre in all of music because anyone with a guitar or piano is pigeonholed in this incredibly vague section of popular music. Therefore many talented people are getting snowed under by the sheer mass of releases in this so-called genre. David Poe shouldn’t be restricted to this genre or many others should not be shoved into this corner of popular music because it takes away from the uniqueness and meaningfulness of this artist and his music.

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daysliketheseDays Like These
John Taglieri

August 19, 2014
LeapDog Music

 


Buy/Listen:
iTunes | Amazon | Spotify
Connect: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Reverbnation

 

John Taglieri has been releasing records for years. And whether it’s been under his own name, under the TAG moniker or as a collaboration with others, one thing has always stood strong: an honest and energetic delivery. If your looking for constant perfection or slickly filed songs through production, bells, whistles and other adornments, you’re barking up the wrong tree. John Taglieri’s music is a little raw, a little rough ’round the edges even, but for a large part that’s where its strength is situated. The passion, the energy and the honest delivery of every single word and every single note sends out a message to take life head on and make the best of it. John sings of ups and downs, of the journey we all experience in life. And when you listen to his songs, you don’t just believe it, you are reminded of those experiences. That’s why you connect and isn’t that what music and art are all about. That personal connection that makes you feel something or inspires you. If anything, that’s what John has always been able to accomplish through his music.

 

Summer of 2014 is here and so is John’s new release Days Like These. It’s an extended play containing six new songs. John’s previous release, Southern Paradise, touched the country-rock / roots-rock side of things a little more than we were used to but with Days Like These the energetic and passionate contemporary rock anthems are in full swing again. If you enjoy popular contemporary pop/rock such as Lifehouse, Goo Goo Dolls, Nine Days, Sister Hazel, Better Than Ezra with a slight classic vibe such as Bon Jovi, R.E.M. and Bryan Adams, you’ll be ecstatic with this new release. From the upbeat title track that opens the EP to the intriguing closer ‘Toasting The Man In The Moon’, Taglieri manages to capture and hold your attention. You go from pure fun to more reflective thoughts and from admiration to inspiration in just over 20 minutes time. If you can sit through this record without any of your body parts (in)voluntarily moving, you must be a robot.

 

John Taglieri is an acquired taste because while you can compare him musically to the previously mentioned bands and artists, his music doesn’t get carried away by a big production or by crystal clear vocals. Because that’s not what it’s about. Instead it is filled with life and character. For some of you, this might not be the right cup of tea, but for those of you who can look past it and make that connection, this record is going to be a special one. It’s real music and real emotion and all the ornaments are stripped away. Big radio and mainstream charts may like Christmas trees but there’s also beauty in a fir tree that weathers wind and rain and still is full of life. It may be a weird analogy but it’s the best way to describe what I’m trying to explain. Days Like These is filled with life experiences, with blood, sweat and tears and it gives an extra dimension to the songs that will allow you to make a strong connection if you are open to it.

 

The EP opens with the title track ‘Days Like These’. It’s probably the most radio friendly tune on the EP as it’s upbeat and allows for singing along quite well. It will come as no surprise that John chose this song as the lead single. The song came to fruition shortly after John heard that he was going to be a father. Maybe that’s why the energy and emotion fuel this song from start to finish. Parts of the song, primarily the chorus, sound reminiscent of Lifehouse’s ‘First Time’, which was a pretty big hit on the radio. So who knows, Taglieri could have radio success ahead of him here.

 

’Here For The Taking’ follows next. The powerful delivery and rich arrangement bear tribute to 90s artists like Bryan Adams. Taglieri, however, has the ability to use songs as a suit. In the end, songs are always going to sound like John Taglieri songs. The reason for that: from the first note to the last, he gives 100% and you really do hear that.

 

I was hoping that ‘Beautiful Tonight’ was going to be a little slower with maybe a subtle strings arrangement. However, it’s a sparky, mid-tempo, powerpop song. It’s one of those tracks you may not notice the first time through, but when you get to know the record you start wondering why you didn’t hear this the first time. “Stepping out from the shadows, coming back into the light” is a line that really spoke to me. It reminds me of something from my past. And this is representative for what John Taglieri does with most of his songs. All of a sudden you start to realize he’s speaking to you. Because his songs hold meaning and we are all looking for meaning in our lives.

 

‘Thin Air’ is one of the standout songs on this album. This song is carried by the arrangement and topped off by John’s vocals that soar high like an eagle. Who doesn’t recognize those moments between hope and despair?

 

John’s vocals match up with keys beautifully as is proven by ‘Finish Line’. There are many subtle changes in the arrangement that keep the song interesting throughout the whole thing. Also, Taglieri hints to his early release Leap of Faith and weaves it together with other lyrical references. I could imagine a live version with strings accompanying. One of my personal favorites.

 

The EP finishes strongs with an intriguing song. ‘Toasting The Man In The Moon’ doesn’t just have an awesome song title, it also is a song with a lot of drive and something of a classic John Taglieri sound. In both arrangement and vocals you can hear a superb balance between intensity and restraint. And above all, this is going to make a killer live song.

 

Days Like These is exactly what you’d hope for and expect from John Taglieri. It’s intense, full of character and doesn’t come with any false pretenses. It is what it is and it holds its own. To recount the previously used analogy: Days Like These is that beautiful, experienced fir tree that, despite and because of all its endurances, is still full of life, ready for whatever is coming next. Proud, strong and energetic, just like its creator.

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