It's both curious and mind-boggling. After he released the stunning album The Solitude of Here it was expected that record companies would wear out Dave Tate's doorstep. Why this didn't happen is anybody's guess. It may be because Dave Tate cherishes his independence, but he did hint more than once at the fact that his life would be a fair deal easier with a record deal. So the most recent album, The Final Hour, was again released independently.
The Final Hour once again establishes Dave Tate formidable qualities as a singer/ songwriter so enthusiasts of The Solitude of Here can buy this CD blindly. It calls to mind the same salutary atmosphere that The Solitude of Here had. All words of praise I had for The Solitude can be applied to this CD as well: it has as much character as a Nick Drake album; Tate has a voice which can closely resemble the young Paul Simon (Fall to You, Beyond the Veil) and which is very much like that of David Gates in the higher registers. Still, he retains his individual and entirely unique style and so avoids becoming an epigone of the abovementioned singers. Tate's classically trained voice effortlessly sings the higher notes, which have an actual function in the songs and aren't meant to show off. These notes give the tracks an additional suspense and overtones. Apart from this, Tate's diction is perfect so one can clearly hear the separate words in the lyrics. Furthermore, Tate has a certain, clearly recognisable, way of playing the guitar in which he alternates between flowing and staccato melodies and rhythms (Fourth of July,Rainy Days).
The entire album exudes a comfortable sense of peace and serenity. The poetic lyrics shouldn't be subjected to interpretation, which would be no easy task anyway because they're rather mysterious at times. They have to be felt instead. Dave Tate gives his listener room to do this. He weaves pauses into his compositions by using short breaks or guitar riffs so the listener has time to let everything sink in. I really like this style in which mindfulness and intensity go hand in hand. In some tracks I miss Ann Marshall and Joe Jones who respectively played the violin and the bassoon on The Solitude. Cellist Ryan Kratsch does feature on this CD again and the way in which the cello harmonises with Tate's vocals and guitar is a true treat for the ears. The devotee will have to go to Cdbaby or Tate's website in order to get their own copy. As far as I'm concerned Tate is the best singer/songwriter around at the moment.
Grade: 9 out of 10