The Houses of Healing
"It is a perfect winter album – fitting for a time of elongated hours, of
stillness and quiet. A time of drawing in and looking in. A time of being
within. Its sound evokes all of this, yet its lyrics speak to an interior
life of upheaval and change. It is an album of contradiction and clarity,
of simplicity and great depth.
The Houses of Healing is the ninth studio album from Zion Canyon-based
singer/songwriter Dave Tate. And here, he is at his best. Houses combines
Tate’s soulful voice, his intimate acoustic style and poetic lyrics into a
singular sound experience. It is haunting, moving, alive and hopeful. This
album is capable of inspiring both tears and contemplative silence. It is
capable of acting as ambient background music or as soul-stirring
instigator. Such is the talent of Dave Tate.
Of the 11 tracks on Houses, my favorites include “I’ve Known This,” End of
Seas,” “By Your Side” and “Karmic Circle.” Each of these has a melodic
chorus that acts as a grounding influence in the midst of major spiritual
revelation. Themes of nonattachment, surrender, awakening and rebirth are
common on Houses. “Karmic Circle” is indicative of this as he sings,
“Enter the night, wrapped in the light of you/ I feel the pull, with every
moaning move/ I’d grown so tired of running away/ From the fog and the pain/ So I
turn and walk into the unknown.” There are times when Tate’s songs remind me of Rumi,
both in subject matter and tone. He speaks of his transformative surrender, of being
“new and naked to what I was.” And he also mentions a figure who ushered him through this process.
Just as with Rumi’s “beloved,” I sense there are layers to the being referenced in
Tate’s songs – from the cosmic Divine, to the intimate divine.
This is just a hint at some of the depth of The Houses of Healing. And this is only my interpretation.
The album is also full of many poetic phrases in which my writer-self
delights, like “Our time is right for divine living art,” “the gaping
shores of soul,” and “Underneath words is the language of space.” With every
listen, I find another level of it to love. The only jarring moment I find on Houses is the second track,
“Fall Apart.” It leads in with flute music that feels incongruous with the rest of the album.
Perhaps this is my personal bias. Living in the Southwest, I’m used to flute music being used,
at times, as a stand-in for a sense of spirituality and connection to the divine. Here,
Dave Tate shows us he’scapable of the real thing with just his voice and guitar.
I don’t mean to make this album sound like it was crafted only for peaceniks and Buddhists.
Tate’s talent is bigger than our ability to label it. The
Houses of Healing is contemporary, spiritual folk…and it is so much more.
The Houses Of Healing
The last time I was in contact with Dave Tate, he sat urgently thinking about moving.
Not necessarily because he was dissatisfied with where he lived, surrounded by glorious
Zion National Park in Utah, but because it is virtually impossible in America to build a career as a
singer-songwriter if you so far away from civilization. It will be interesting to see what impact such
a move will have on his art. Music as breathtakingly beautiful and spiritual as again found on his fourth cd
The Houses of Healing could almost only come from an environment in which the divine ideal is almost obtained.
I still personally find it difficult to comprehend that Tate, with such divine albums has received virtually
no responses. I count myself very lucky to have this wonderful music. I have come to know long before now,
as Nick Drake was once discovered to be, that Tate is one of the most unique singer-songwriters ever.
Five out of Five Stars
-Eric van Domburg Scipio, Heaven Magazine, the Netherlands
November 30, 2010