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David Simard - The Heavy Wait (Self Release)

From the offset this is a very intense album. David Simard's delivery is considered and authoritative, there is space and emotion in everything he does here. The album is called THE HEAVY WAIT, a phrase which apparently became a mantra from the first session onwards. It could also refer to that stretching of time and space around every note on the record. The title and the space since Simard's last record and his delivery suggests that every line, each note has been refined, and carefully considered. Paired back, distilled down to an intense essential essence. THE HEAVY WAIT opens on Cat's Cradle with a skeletal picked and strummed electric guitar laying down a sparse tune. Lap Steel and percussion join in, but all this is ambience and mood lighting for the real star which is David Simard's voice. Clarinet and bowed bass create a jazz torch song over which the vocals are compelling. The lyric talks about denial and rejecting pleasures as if the singer is involved in a process similar to the song. The space and the considered delivery recalls melancholic 60s vocalists like Scott Walker. That cracked bass rumble recalls the 50 styled delivery of Richard Hawley, or on tracks like Good Clean Water, classic singers like Roger Miller, Leonard Cohen or even Lonnie Donegan. Cohen for his rumbling note rather than just as a lazy knee jerk reference because he is a Canadian.

David Simard's voice swoops and yelps, creating songs that are intimate and timeless drawing you in, as you hang on every syllable. The retro vibe is there on the faster tempo The Guitar Player, brushed drums spit out a frantic pattern with a chiming fifties styled guitar and a vocalise / guitar solo that nods to Ghost Riders In The Sky. Again the vocal, like a male Imelda May whoops and rumbles through the song. The Line slows it down again, sparse funeral drums and a beautifully crooned vocal, drawled in an affecting way that is atmospheric and emotional. I'm Bad has a tempo and delivery that brings to mind the stretched tight qualities of Hank Williams' classic road song I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry. The lyric is pure melancholic drifter troubadour, you can imagine him sprawled on a motel double bed, cowboy boots on, strumming on a guitar, staring out of a huge picture window between faded curtains. The arrangement is perfectly stripped back so the occasional strums of Simard's electric fill the room. This intense self-depreciating song is one of the highlights of a strong album. La Dee Da continues that dark vibes, the tempo stretches time and the rumbling vocal with its yodel refrain draws you in. Simard's delivery lends some sharp lyrics even more depth and pathos because of his impeccable timing. "She's a modern girl with a vintage feel" seems to typify the mood and the attraction of the whole album.

Superior is another smouldering Folk Jazz piece, a beautiful ascending bass line, hesitant icy piano that is pure Bill Evans and a lap steel whose echoing call suggests the endless frozen landscape. The vocal soars and falls, painting bleak pictures as much with its sound as with the words Simard forms. Said Too Much is a lullaby. a song about a song, beautifully crooned over possibly some of the most perfect playing on the album, it stops abruptly, setting up the dramatic next track. Take Me In opens with some wonderful primitive guitar, the mic right in the amp speaker to pick up every buzz and last piece of ambience. The doubled tracked vocals with David and Brie Nelson, hesitant and charged are sublime, part Chris Isaak part Mark Hollis one time Talk Talk singer at his stripped back best. Rorschach the final track unconsciously channels Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven with its lyrical lady reference in the first line. The lyrics are surreally descriptive, observational and rich. Just as you wonder how much further Simard can push that guitar playing he puts it down and leaves it alone, On Rorschach the sound separates this track from the rest of the album, the voice carries the tune over piano accents and a bass heavy rhythm. Without the guitars the tempo and atmosphere suggests Miles Davis' KIND OF BLUE. Layered echoing brass that is more Specials Ghost Town than folk blues just leaves the albums inventive side till last, suggesting that Simard has a lot more yet to reveal. Richly rewarding, with multiple layers of sound rather than orchestras of musicians, so you can hear the space, this is an album that bears repeated visits. Play it loud, play it often and take the time to listen.

Marc Higgins
Northern Sky