Emotionally intimate and exploratory, with a just as expressive melodic climate, the new album from New York City singer songwriter/producer David Bronson is a warm and resourceful landscape of thought and sparkling enterprise. Consisting of songs which as its title, seems to stem from Questions Bronson has asked of himself and his life, the album is a striking and immersive caress on ears and imagination. It is not an encounter which always consistently lights personal appetites to the same strength as its finest moments, but one emerging as a lingering and thoroughly enjoyable proposition easy to recommend to those with a want of soulful and melody drenched creativity.
The successor to his acclaimed 2013 debut album The Long Lost Story, ‘a decade-in-the-making, 22-song autobiographical double album’ split into two separate releases, Questions sees Bronson looking at his life and the world right now, and drawing on the likes of vocalist Robin Clark (Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Al Green, Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce, David Bowie), guitarist Carlos Alomar (David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Paul McCartney, John Lennon), guitarist Robbie “Seahag” Mangano, drummer Lautaro Burgos, and Gordon Grody to inventively colour these investigations. Whereas the first release expressed a more indie rock seeded sound around his seventies inspired songwriting, the new album embraces new adventurous flavours such as soul, folk, and gospel in its new proposals, a spicing helping the Godfrey Diamond (Lou Reed)/Bronson produced Questions become a captivating and intriguingly varied encounter.
From the opening Songbird, Bronson and album has ears and attention awake, its acoustic caress of guitar the canvas for some delicious harmonies and the lyrical prowess and insight of Bronson. Immediately there is a Paul Simon like air to the heart of the song but also plenty to make it radiate a fresh and original presence. Vibrant beats only add catchy texture to the gentle swing of the song but it is the gospel bred harmonies which steal the impressive show.
Both Move Like Water and Day By Day glide through personal balladry with Bronson and guitar again offering a sure and warm entrance to which melodies and sultry climates, not forgetting a great throaty bassline in the first of the two, immerse senses and thoughts evocatively. Each pleases with their individual charms but it is with Push that another surge of greed hits ears and personal appetite. The fourth track is an instant drama with keys straight away looming and laying down a single prod before taking a pause, returning a few seconds later with the same Boomtown Rats like potency as they align to the alluring strum of the guitar. It is a mesmeric track, voice and music sketching an easily accessible and emotively connecting narrative in a dance of creative and vivacious enterprise.
The following Task is another stirring and inescapable invitation for feet and emotions to fully engage in, its sway of funk fuelled revelry a swift and fascinating infectiousness with melodic resourcefulness to match. It and its predecessor provide the pinnacle of the album, the thrilling peak to which other songs aspire but with varying success cannot quite emulate. Despite that the likes of the Lennon-esque All These Things and the smouldering dark folk theatre of Life Is long provide thoroughly enjoyable and lingering temptations whilst the melodic rock fuelled My Good Friend with its compelling seventies psyche rock keys, add another strain of bright adventure and full pleasure to album and emotions respectively.
The closing pair of Connect The Dots and Passing Fiction slip into more reserved hugs of melodic and harmonic endeavour which, without finding the same persuasive spark as their immediate predecessors, ignite ears and thoughts with consummate ease. The guitar adventure of the pair is an especially thrilling and magnetic coaxing, the twinges of discord which bless the imagination of strings and fingers as enthralling as anything on the album.
Questions is a definite investigation for certainly fans of the likes of Paul Simon and John Lennon but equally those of current talent like Seth Lakeman and Thom Bowden. The album did not quite ignite enough fire in emotions across its length but really only due to personal tastes and with some quite thrilling tracks and invention involved it is easy to assume it will spark a blaze in a great many.
Questions is available from 19th January via Big Arc
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