Music from the Heart and Soul
David Robert King hails from Boise, Idaho and in my opinion is someone we all need to pay very close attention to. His EP Take Me Home is comprised of five very well-crafted tunes that obviously come from the very heart and soul of this young artist.
As I have stated in many reviews of americana and/or roots music over the years, for the music to be successful it must come from the heart and soul. If it doesn’t, it fails. By successful, I don’t mean it has to sell a million copies. It simply means the artist has to be satisfied with his work. After compiling these five tunes, Mr. King should be very satisfied.
He begins the EP with a strange little love ballad called “Strange Freedom”. I get it though. “There’s a strange freedom in knowing//The one that you love doesn’t love you back”. True statement. It’s the not knowing that holds you prisoner and will drive you insane. At the very least, the knowledge of not having reciprocal love frees us, eventually enabling us to move on to the next heartbreak, or whatever else lies ahead.
Next up is the title cut for the EP, “Take Me Home”. It’s a painful, yet well-crafted tune about sleepless nights and tormented days of lost love, broken hearts, and striving to get back to where you were prior to the broken heart, but the receiver of said love is not on the same page. The confusion, the pain, the hope, the disappointments; it’s all present in this fine tune. “My head is spinning and my hearts a mess/Take me home/But in the meantime/Leave me alone”
The final cut on the EP is very cool tune called “As Closed”. The gentle picking of the banjo, accompanied by piano and organ all compliment each other, gracefully building as we move along through the song, intertwining beautifully with the lyrics. “As closed as my eyes seem/I can tell you’re right there with me/And I’ll hold on to you/Even when the whole world shakes/The world will just have to wait/You’re all I can see/You made everything different/You made everything beautiful.”
Where previous tunes on the record have been about confusion, hopelessness, and wounded hearts, this song is a sharp contrast, bringing the listener messages of hope and the beauty of love found, along with the joy it can bring to us. It is absolutely my favorite song on the EP and was a great way to end this superb treasure. The music here is big, very big. I would be quite amazed if we do not hear a lot more from this exceptional new artist. I could honestly relate to every single tune on the EP.
David Robert King is a very talented singer/songwriter and I truly enjoyed listening to and writing about his fastidiously sensitive music. I definitely will look forward to hearing more from him in the future.
Review by Rod Ames
A Beautifully Crafted Sampler
At five tracks and less than twenty-three minutes in length, David King's EP Take Me Home doesn't give itself much time to make an impression, but it'd still be able to leave an excellent one in half that time. From the first song, "Strange Freedom", King shows himself to be a strong lyricist and equally strong, if not stronger, songwriter. Despite the short run time, the EP manages to feature two different yet similarly styled types of songs, beginning with two guitar driven songs and transitioning to songs with more layered pianos and keyboards. Most of Take Me Home is written in 3/4 time, giving many of the tracks a waltz beat and a lyrical rhythm that flows smoothly from track to track.
Sonically, King's music style is very reminiscent of The Wallflowers, particularly on the keyboard led numbers. King's voice and delivery is somewhat akin to Jakob Dylan's too, making the comparison stronger; though King's lyrics are less obtuse and more direct than Dylan's. The lyrics are a significant drawing point to the EP, as evidenced on "Strange Freedom"'s repeated lyric “There's a strange freedom in knowing/the one that you love doesn't love you back”, sung over the song's coda. The subject matter doesn't stray too far from the concepts of love, pining, and heartache, but King can craft some wonderful imagery such as “Was my apartment cold that evening or, did my shoulder and arms feel just right” from "Somehow Today." The piano and guitar meshing together on said song to create a hypnotic repeating quality that sounds similar to Coldplay's "Clocks", with that tone perfectly matching and drawing out the emotions contained within the words. Even the noise of King's hands squeaking along the frets of his guitar adds to the enchanting rhythm.
The title track is the most dynamic of the five songs as it develops from its acoustic guitar base to the keyboard heavy sound that features more on the second half of the EP. The percussion is non-existent to start, lightly kicks in to change the time signature, and eventually develops into booming drum fills that propel the chorus of an otherwise low-key song. This kind of percussion is generally what prevails on most of the songs. Aside from the shuffle beat on "Strange Freedom", king chooses to put the percussion in the background, allowing the full force of his words to carry through.
The remaining songs, "The Winter" and "As Closed" are similarly written in how the verses have very light instrumentation and the choruses very layered sounds. King doesn't create riffs so much as he plays a few repeated notes during the verse that again, allow his voice and words to be the song. Anyone seeking a guitar solo would be hard-pressed to find one throughout the extended player, with the closest thing being the banjo solo on the breakdown of "As Closed". But this is a kind of microcosm to the EP as a whole; there's no one thing or part that truly stands out, instead it all coalesces into a series of powerful arrangements, and exemplary songwriting.
Take Me Home works incredibly well as an EP; it doesn't overstay its welcome and leaves a craving for more afterward. David Robert King is a solid performer, but a stellar songwriter and lyricist. The pleasant arrangements and deep lyrics will appeal to listeners across genres and is a large step-up from the adult contemporary fare of recent years. With all good fortune, the music world can look forward to a full-length recording of King's in the future; but for now, Take Me Home will do just fine.
Review by Heath Andrews
Reconsidering the Familiar
This reviewer has never met David Robert King. In fact this reviewer has spent little time in his native Idaho, or the Northwest, where his live performances are garnering significant attention. This reviewer has never stood in the crowd and watched him play, solo or accompanied by backing band The Lost River Boys, never shared a beer with him after a show.
Nevertheless, King’s Take Me Home EP is familiar. Familiar in a comfortable, nice-guy-you-run-into at the local bar or grocery store kind of way, familiar like a front porch jam session on a summer evening. King’s voice, perfectly pitched, masculine with a suggestion of sensitivity, is comforting; it’s a timbre you’ve heard crooned from the radio since childhood. King’s lyrics follow well-worn trails of loss, love and perseverance. Instrumental backing, heavy on guitar and piano, is pretty and embracing. The structure of King’s vocal and instrumental arrangements echo earlier masters of rock, bluegrass, country, and folk, invoking decades of musical lore.
It comes as no surprise that King is winning over audiences across the continental US. Audiences like what they already know. They like what they hear on the radio, they like arrangements and melodies and lyrics that invoke but do not challenge classic genres, that do not force them to consider music, art, and life in a new way. Take Me Home courts this complacency. It gives them what they want.
The EP’s first track, “Strange Freedom,” is a perfect example. It begins with upbeat drum and guitar, soon be joined by King’s optimistic crooning. The track is uplifting, emotional, about life and love. There is little to complain about, but also little to engage a listener’s curiosity or lodge in the memory. The title track is a sadder, slower ballad with a heavy americana influence and guitar parts that exhibit a bittersweet twang. Introspective and pretty, “Take Me Home” is a stronger offering than the first track.
The third track, “The Winter,” is also slightly melancholy. Slower sections incorporate an intriguing, ambitious melody, which is unfortunately overshadowed by a chorus that strives for inspirational but may verge on cliché. Lyrics invoking the image of a lover walking away are something that this reviewer has heard many times before.
“Somehow Today” begins with pretty guitar and piano interplay. Vocals are doused in heavy reverb, however, which is slightly distracting, an unnecessary embellishment on King’s solid vocals. Lyrics conjure up engagingly unexpected imagery: That November night is kind of a blur, I remember your uncovered feet. This is a fresh image that sparks curiosity as the lyrics proceed to unfold. With female backing vocals, it is a beautiful song, but by its conclusion remains, predictably, another ballad of troubled love.
The final track “As Closed,” though uplifting and mid-tempo like much of the EP, is the most experimental track on the EP. “As Closed” blends genres, slipping from pretty guitar and piano duets to a barrage of frantic scales and tambourines reminiscent of cabaret. The refrain recalls Jimmy Eat World’s “A Praise Chorus.”
This is not an EP for college radio stations foraging new musical frontiers. Their libraries are already well stocked with the classics. The likes of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Woody Guthrie have already scoured the territory that King now treads with this 2010 release. Of course, every musician has heroes, influences, and musical soul mates from past eras. Every genre, every great artist, is simply a compound of the past. King is no exception, providing a solid homage to the legends of rock, bluegrass, and country. There is nothing new or out of place on this comfortable little five song EP. It’s easy to slip into, easy to listen to. It won’t keep you up at night reevaluating your life, or your favorite musical genre. Take Me Home is easy, which may also mean that it is easy to forget.
The poignancy and impact of the EP may be limited by its very familiarity. Still, this reviewer has reason to believe that as King’s prowess increases, so will his depth and breadth.
Review by Kendra Atleework