Dave Tate: an Exceptionally Talented First-Rate Singer/Songwriter
Every now and again you may find that words are inadequate to describe the beauty of a CD, which makes, to use a paraphrase of one of Frank Zappas quotations, writing about music as awkward as dancing about architecture. Nevertheless Ill make an attempt to do so.
You rarely come across a CD of such exquisite quality that you are entirely enthralled by it. A CD which is always close to your sound system so you can play it daily. A CD which keeps you awake because you cant seem to get some of its passages out of your head and which, when played in company, will immediately stop all conversation and make people ask you about its artist and title. In short, a CD which will make your heart beat faster and which will dominate your musical life for a longer period of time.
The brilliant singer/songwriter who made such a CD is Dave Tate. My attention was drawn to his CD, The Solitude of Here, by a review in Heaven magazine, in which he was given high praise, which still seems like an understatement after youve heard the album. The Solitude of Here makes you feel nostalgic because it takes you back to the time of the great singer/songwriters. In some songs, such as Into Mercy or Rose, Tate sounds somewhat like a young Paul Simon, while comparisons of his voice to those of David Gates and Don McLean are obvious when he sings in a high pitched voice. In addition to that, The Solitude of Here, has the introspective, intimate quality of a Nick Drake CD.
All of these musicians have made important contributions to music in the past and I am much mistaken if Dave Tates name wont be added to this list, in time. Still he is not an epigone of the examples I mentioned above. This is due to Dave Tates talent to revive old times without wanting to sound or sounding old fashioned. Dave Tate's themes are universal but his approach is anything but that. This can already be heard in the opening track, Evensong. After you've just recovered from hearing Tates marvellous voice and virtuoso guitar-playing, a bassoon joins in to give the track an additional emotional overtone. You know youve come across something special from that moment on. The next track, Left a Mark, is a breathtakingly beautiful composition which is a perfect synthesis between vocals/guitar music and chamber music. The trio of classically trained musicians, consisting of Anne Marshall (violin), Ryan Kratsch (cello) and Joe Jones (bassoon),adds depth and dynamics to several tracks through subtle contributions. The vocal climax in Harmony, which in itself is no small feat, is intensified by superb string music by Marshall and Kratsch and in Light was Low the polyphonic cello and violin music pull right at your heartstrings.
But the elements which make this album into a true listening experience are Dave Tate’s voice and guitar playing. This can be heard in songs such as Light was Low, The Faucon or Rose. All songs are sung, or to put it more aptly, experienced by Tate with great intensity, which makes them get under my skin permanently. The tracks on this CD are characterized by vulnerable poignancy instead of cheap sentiment or melodrama.
Dave Tate has released this album on his own, dubbing and mastering it himself. The recordings are either unbelievably clear, or they've been made in an exceptionally good recording studio. Its hard to believe but this CD isn't distributed and can only be bought on the Internet at www.cdbaby.com/artist/davetate, where you can also listen to fragments of the album. This CD deserves to be better distributed; it should be available at every record shop. This masterpiece is worthy of a place in the singer/ songwriter Hall of Fame. I discovered that The Solitude of Here is not a nine days wonder when I got hold of Tates second album Home is in the Stars, on which he validates his exceptional talent.
Rating: 9,5 (out of 10)
Original review at www.folkforum.nl in Dutch (translation: Mijke van de Wiel)