The music of David Todoran has long been popular at whatzup World Headquarters, but until about a year ago, I was only a casual fan. Last summer, I caught a live performance that changed my opinion of the man and his music for good. Todoran was opening a show for Carrie Newcomer at the Unitarian Univer-salist Congregation, and his performance in the intimate space was so captivating that it had the small audience -- and me along with it -- clamoring for an encore. That's quite a feat for an opener.
What's changed my mind about Todoran's music is that he's retreated to more traditional musical styles that are better platforms for his considerable songwriting skills. The de-evolution of his music from polished pop/rock to folk- and country-tinged Americana that began with his last album, Solstice, is completed on Under My Skin.
Todoran describes Under My Skin as "love, loss and twang," and it's as good a description as any. The album is knee-deep in the kind of alternative country that was made nearly-popular by bands like the Jayhawks and Son Volt, and it approaches the well worn subject matter of folk and country music with more than a little rock n' roll irony.
If you've read any of pieces Todoran has written for whatzup (including his profile of Mot–rhead on page five of this issue), you've probably noticed a couple of things about him. First of all, he knows music. Second, he's a talented writer. Both of these qualities show up big time on Under My Skin. Take for example, "Walkin' in My Shoes," a song that is almost as country as you can get (although it reminds me quite a bit of early REM), but which puts an appealing spin on the traditional country sob story; the song's subject wants no part of a bartender's (or a songwriter's) sympathy, complaining that "it's mighty nice to think I'm a winner when I lose / I appreciate the thought, but don't go walkin' in my shoes." "Carry On," on the other hand, is a very traditional folky road song.
Todoran also gets points from me for using a banjo (played by John Nicholson) on "Angelina"; apart from my personal affinity for the instrument, the traditional sound adds remarkable depth to the song. At the opposite end of the spectrum (at least the spectrum of this album) is "Did It Again," which leans much more toward pop but which is still appealingly rootsy. Todoran has long been hailed as Fort Wayne's local master of Americana, and with Under My Skin, he takes uncontested control of the title.
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