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What's Up For Today?

New York Cool - Ask Miss Wendy

 

New York Cool - Music

David Mead's Almost and Always

Reviewed by John Hashop

 

 



Thank you, David Mead. After wading through an endless selection of mediocre, boring and out-and-out bad albums lately, I was starting to despair for the future of music. Okay, that's a bit of a hyperbole, but I was really ready to hear something good. I was rewarded this weekend with singer/songwriter David Mead's latest, the wistfully unsettling and strangely satisfying Almost and Always.
Since his 1999 debut with The Luxury of Time, Mead has been widely heralded by critics and just as widely ignored by the public, a predicament known in the music business as “a damned shame.” If I may be so bold as to make a prediction, Almost and Always will further both of those trends. It's a great album, it really is. It is not radio-friendly, not at all.

Mead's musical sensibility often draws comparisons to those of Lennon, McCartney and Paul Simon, and nowhere is that more evident than in the most immediately accessible track on the album, “Blackberry Winters,” which sounds as if it only just missed the cut for Still Crazy After All These Years. Oddly enough, on the third time listening through, it takes a back seat to some of the more complex and plaintive and songs like the piano-backed “Little Boats” and the string-filled “Sicily.”

Mead's arrangements are deceptively simple throughout the album. He'll be playing an ambling little acoustic number like “Gramercy Vaudeville” and then, when the woodwinds kick in from out of nowhere instead of wondering what the hell they're doing there, you'll realize that of course this song needed a swooping clarinet solo or two. And while the arrangements may be simple, the songs are anything but – Mead's chord progressions start out at A and get you to Z, but only after taking a detour through a Q augmented seventh. Thankfully, instead of distracting, these little side trips are what make the album such fun.

Naturally, there are some weak tracks, and naturally (for me) the title track is one of them. However, the good on Almost and Always far outweighs the bad and Mead delivers another consistently pleasant effort on his fifth studio release. Give David Mead a shot; you're long overdue.

 


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