Whammies favorite David Todoran is set to release his third solo collection of songs, Luck In This Life, upon not only Fort Wayne but all of Europe. After a successful European tour Todoran spent part of last summer in Berlin, Germany recording the songs for this album. Instead of using studio musicians, Todoran relied on the band Dziuks Kûche to round out his sound. The fact that these musicians intimately know each other’s playing style clearly shows in the unified and friendly arrangements.
The basic tracks were recorded in Berlin’s Kulturbrauerei, a renovated brewery that now houses art galleries, cinema spaces and other bohemian draws amidst cobblestone alleys and red brick buildings. These recordings were later augmented by an impressive array of sounds and atmospheres compliments of engineers Moe Jacksh and Danny Dziuk. From the lush, balanced, textured production, it’s obvious that these two didn’t work at an hourly rate! Every listen revealed new ideas that I want to steal, er, adapt to my own recordings. Such complete production is only fitting for these extremely well written, mature songs that bear many repeat listens. Additional vocals were recorded at Tempel Recording Studio and the entire release was mastered at Sweetwater Sound.
The lyrics on these 11 songs feature the restless seeking peace, exploring the kind of inner conflict that pairs nicely with the brooding melodies and instrumentation that bears a sparse, lonely feel. Musically Todoran blends roots rock with pop and alt-country to paint a tapestry that will surely appeal to nearly every ear.
An aching resonator guitar opens the album on “Into the Sky,” backed by a miasma of muffled percussion and electronic sounds, evoking feelings of a banjo being played by a murky swamp. The hypnotic melody is later enhanced by orchestral strings and more experimental electronica sounds which provide a subtle contrast to the acoustic instruments. The upbeat “Good” is about as rock as this album gets, featuring shimmering guitars that fade in and out besides the gentle pop vocal harmonies of the chorus. More swirling keyboard sounds are to be found on “Drive All Night”, often sounding like the drone of a sitar. Spooky organs dominate the song with hair-raising, creaky leads until near the end when the drums and bass get heavier, paving the way for the guitar to take a distorted solo veiled behind the wall of sound. The title track is both driving and uneasy with Todoran ruminating his life with “What I’ve lost I’m not all that eager to find.”
The juxtaposition of acoustic instruments and electronic sounds hits its peak with “In the End,” where even the percussion gets hit with flange while an edgy organ prods the subconscious. The intrinsically sad “Café Novacento” provides a welcome contrast to the dark songs that came before it. Light and airy with acoustic guitar, piano and bowed contrabass, Todoran sings of an unlikely pairing of two seeking souls, finding that “Not everyone who wanders is lost”. Fans of The Rembrandts and other sad pop will enjoy the melancholy “Our Own Half Moon” which bursts with vocal harmonies, flute-like organ accents, a heart-rending melody and a very inventive yet brief instrumental passage. The relaxed “Three on a Match” features Spanish guitar and subdued organ and is a nice spacer between “Half Moon” and the following track, “Blue Sky,” which opens with staccato organ and continues with a jazzy Zombies-meets-Gin-Blossoms feel with piles of poppy vocal harmonies throughout.
“I Do” is a smoldering torch song where the upright bass is given a chance to be clearly heard between the wonderfully placed sonic layers that make this song sound like it was recorded in the middle of the night while your lover is sleeping just feet away in a tangle of sheets. The final song, “Glorious,” with prominent resonator guitar, is a perfect bookend to opening track. Here Todoran plays a gritty harmonica that makes the song howl in yearning for that which is just beyond reach.
You can fly to Germany and pick Luck In This Life up today (highly recommended) or you can attend the CD release party on June 21 at Ernie’s Hideaway (highly recommended for those on a budget). For more information, visit http://www.davidtodoran.com
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