David Dondero – The Transient
David Dondero, according to biographical bits scattered amidst the lyrics of The Transient, is “a convenience store connoisseur on a broken shoestring budget tour” careening across his own mental America from gig to gig, living the moment, playing “a skinny indie white-boy blues in scuffed up military-style shoes.” The road and the grind are so hard he’s “lived many lives, maybe seven, just this year” and “driven fourteen hours just to play to a sound guy reading his book.”
The Transient is all about the modern itinerant troubadour chasing art like a cat chases its tail. Total immersion in the highs and lows of Kerouac’s road cause the artist to reach a state where movement and pursuit become integral parts of composition and performance. This sometimes leads to moment-of-clarity declarations such as: “When I die, burn my body/Sprinkle my ashes on the highway /Let the traffic spread the ashes/In the ditches and the overpasses.”
Working with producer Mike Mogis and members of Bright Eyes, Dondero is a raw nerve bundle pulsing at hysterical Hamell On Trial high speeds. He sounds like an overdriven folkie Beck with a few wires crossed at one moment, and like Todd Snider with a fresh amphetamine script the next. Dondero delivers incandescent black-comedy brilliance on “See It Clear”, wherein the artist phones his mother from the road hoping to find out what is wrong with him only to be scolded, “You’ve got too many notes in your song, son/Too many notes in your song.” Fortunately, most of Dondero’s frantic, desperate notes hit the hipster sweet spot dead on.