This is by far the most grabbing male folk album to come through our doors in months. It's hard not to make comparisons to Paul Simon's more sensitive folk writing with a similar mix of warmth, open space, breathy vocals, innocence and a dewy, green clarity of intention. His songs have a way of stealing your breath away and removing you momentarily from the passing of time, suspending you in full-body harmonies. While he has a knack for open-hearted, reflective songs, there is the slightest echo of acoustic jam band writing, giving this album a well-balanced emotional scope from track one to eleven. Bravo.
Once in a blue moon you discover an artist who is so incredibly good that you can't really believe not all music magazines are writing about him already. To me Dave Tate is such a person. I read a review of The Solitude of Here on the CDBaby website, listened to a few tracks and was immediately sold. What a marvellous voice! At once versatile, dynamic and angel-like. What a songs! Like Paul Simon at his best or Don McLean at his most spiritual (The Grave). What a wonderful melodies! What great guitar playing! And what a beautiful sound! Warm, clear, and also quite special through the accompaniment of violin, cello and bassoon.
At the same time as The Solitude of Here Dave Tate also sent another album he had just finished, now with a full band, going under the name Dave Tate Music. Where The Solitude of Here is quiet and spiritual, In the Rhythm is jazzy and rocking, in a way that reminds one of Jeff Buckley's Grace, with the same kind of evasive, gripping melodies and sung by an equally beautiful voice. The great thing about Dave Tate is that he reminds you of all these greats, but at the same time has a unique style that's all his own.
Whether you hear his quieter side or his jazzier, more rocking stuff, it's all quite distinct, without becoming, even for the slightest moment, impenetrable or slick. I'm baffled that he shouldn't be able to find a regular record company, as he possesses the special kind of talent you only see come alone once a decennium. If you're lucky.
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)