Review: David R. Elliott – Rearrange

My favourite albums are the ones where you can hear the love that went into them. I don’t know if you know this about making albums, but it’s super fun (for the most part). You get your friends in a room and you tease each other when you fuck up. There’s laffs and drinks and high fives… and probably a lot of swearing? And then, sometimes, you hear a couple of the tracks come together and everyone shuts up because it sounds really great. Everyone smiles because they know you’ve made a beautiful little sound nugget together; a little tone-baby.

So, I can hear those smiles on David R. Elliott’s new full-length album, Rearrange. I can tell David R. and his friends (Halifax via St. John’s songwriting dynamo Adam Mowery, ubiquitous sound goon and one of two Tynans in Halifax, Tynan Dunfield, and Marc Doucet) – had a time. And, much like how I enjoy a live performance a lot more when it looks like the band is having fun, I think the album benefits tremendously from loose performances and gusto where it counts. Those backing vocals and tasteful licks on early release “Foolish Lips” – a track absolutely caked in a classic Rolling Stones vibe – tell you everything you need to know.

So, Rearrange is fun. Rearrange is well-written. Rearrange sounds just polished enough and is filled with love. It’s also the most solid collection of songs and tones David R. has released to date.  From the rapid-fire opening drum fill of “Flower Dress” to the lo-fi, desperate jangle of album closer “My Girl”, he wants you to know he’s got feelin’s, girl. Or he doesn’t? Or he did, probably? He’s not sure. He likes you in that dress though, goddamn. So what if he can’t make up his mind, that just makes him more mysterious. The only thing I know for sure is that the album is an early contender for best potential summer album I’ve heard so far this year. “Burial Ground” has a bluegrassy drawl to it that makes you feel like you’re sharing a porch swing with Elliott on a hot day. “Somewhere Between Here and Boston” feels like the kind of song you listen after quitting a job you hate to go on a road trip. “Shadow” sounds like there’s a storm brewin’ but you’re too fucking hot to get up and close the windows. All nine tracks make you pine for being a little sweaty, and that’s a special thing.

David R. is too young to have seven releases, probably, but that just means he’s had a ton of practice writing songs. Last year’s Sam Hill (an album funded by a Kickstarter campaign, I think) was a tremendous offering of gentle ups and downs that certainly illustrated his chops. And, I’ve seen him play live enough to know he’s got a deep collection of tunes for just about any speed and mood. He’s got stories to tell, is what. But, for all the good, I can also tell that David R. is still honing his craft. Album pacing on Rearrange can feel disjointed at times. There’s a little hurry-up-and-wait happening with the track ordering that can jostle you out of your warm comfort zone. Given the strength of the songs individually, though, that’s a tremendously small issue. Each track has it’s place (that place is in your ears!). Each track has it’s mood.

So, he’s going on a little tour here this weekend.  I’ve never not enjoyed myself at a David R. Elliott show. And, given the strength of the songs he’s bringing to your favourite watering hole, you’ll never not enjoy yourself either. Do yourself a huge favour and pick up the album. Pick it up, put it on, and wait for it to get too fucking hot out.

Mike Nason

Purchase David R. Elliott’s new album on Bandcamp on March 8th or while he is on the tour:

03/08/2013 – Saint John, NB, Taco Pica w/ Clinton Charlton & Tooth and the Fang
03/09/2013 – Fredericton, NB, The Capital w/ Jenny Omnichord and Richard Laviolette
03/14/2013 – Halifax, NS, Gus’ Pub * w/ Adam Mowery
03/15/2013 – Pictou County, NB, Press Room Pub*
03/16/2013 – Dartmouth, NS, Joseph Shea House Show*
03/28/2013 – Charlottetown, PEI, Baba’s Lounge* w/ Al Tuck
03/29/2013 – Belle River, PEI, Old Belle River Church*

* with Mike Trask

David R. Elliott - Rearrange
foodclothingshelter music, 2013

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