Dave Desmelik: Onlooker
Dave Desmelik has been round a musical block or two. At one time he was a member of the hottest band in Flagstaff – can’t say I know how big Flagstaff is, but it’s a fair bet it’s bigger than Dingwall. Now, though, he’s moved back to the old south and has recorded this, his sixth album, in Nashville. There’s country sounds in here, and some supporting players, but in line with the album title this sounds pretty much like classic introverted singer-songwriter territory. Generally fairly downbeat, these songs sound like private reflections that he’s happening to let us eavesdrop. Well other people’s reflections are sometimes a way of getting into some gentle contemplation of our own lives and I guess this is what happens here. He sings of things that happen to us all, though maybe not as insightfully as some of his better known contemporaries; we can all observe but I guess we want our poets to offer us some fresh understanding.
Where Onlooker does shine is in some of the music; there’s some really beautiful playing: Dave Desmelik himself on guitars, mandolin, banjo and piano decorates his own songs with some real delicacy, broadening the emotional landscape created by each song. Josh Gibbs dobro playing is similarly supportive and restrained. Vocally, he sings with character and something of an accent which generally I reckon to be a good thing; it’s not always the strongest voice but at his best – say on If It’s Good For You – he sounds remarkably like the Avett Brothers, or maybe Jay Farrer. A few of these songs sound like stripped down versions of material written with an electric band in mind, but mostly I can picture hearing these in a small bar somewhere, sipping my pint and contemplating the ways of the world.