Thursday, May 05, 2011

Dave Shiflett and Friends - From The First Time (2011)

Folk singer and songwriter Dave Shiflett is employed as a critic for Bloomberg News. He also writes for The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. He has published several books including one with Donald Trump, The America We Deserve. Shiflett just completed a novel and is currently looking for an agent but, as is often the case, his new album, From The First Time, has been released to the world on his website without any assistance whatsoever. For music lovers like me that is a good thing.

From The First Time is Shiflett's fifth CD. He has released earlier works under his own name and as the leader of two bands, Floor Creak and The Karma Farmers.

Shiflett's voice is not powerful but he has a pleasant delivery that fits the songs quite well. The arrangements are driven by acoustic guitars that are often joined by percussionists, violins, mandolins, and any other light accompaniment the situation calls for. He writes tuneful works that should hold your interest.

The fact that the songwriter is also a novelist is an indication that the seven offerings on the album are literate and worth listening to. On "Let's Go Walking Around" he desires to show Dulcinea around town and "maybe see Don Quixote chasing his dream through the clouds, singing to his Dulcinea – singing her name out loud." How often do you hear references to these two classic fictional characters referred to in pop music? The answer is not very often and that makes the song refreshing and a bit artful without being pretentious.

The more direct and harder hitting "Seven Days From Birmingham" reveals the thoughts and the heartbreak of losing a twenty-two year old son in a war while a couple who are presumably his parents are driving across the country. Because Shiflett does not take any kind of political stance both hawks and doves can appreciate the song. The track is more about grief and loss than it is about politics and war even though he sings "Now we know what war can do so we’ll drive until we find a better day."

While there are more tracks with interesting wordplay Shiflett never overwrites his material making his latest a very nice outing from an unknown talent.

You can purchase From The First Time on Shiflett's website where you can here samples of the rest of his music.

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