David Mead's 'Dudes'
- Article by: Matt Conner
- Posted: 11/15/2011
Whether it is a power pop release or a brief acoustic excursion, David Mead’s sonic tapestry features several similar threads woven throughout — solid pop constructs marked by an equal share of vulnerability and whimsy. Most importantly, they ensure that Mead’s tender tenor is always front and center. To that end, Dudes is a classic David Mead release.
Mead’s latest is a collaborative effort, from the artists involved to the audience invested. The Nashville songwriter went the Kickstarter route to fund the recording, bringing in nearly $21,000 from fans hungry for an album after three years of waiting since 2008’s Almost and Always. Musically, Dudes features more players than any album since his first.
The end result is a mature, whip-smart album that smirks as it grooves along familiar terrain. Mead opens the procession rather plaintively with “I Can’t Wait,” a warmhearted, hopeful tune that settles somewhere between Randy Newman and Teddy Thompson. “King of the Crosswords” employs a great sax accompaniment while “Bocce Ball” and “Guy on Guy” both employ Mead’s trademark lyrical turns.
Mead jumpstarts Dudes’ second half with a surefire live favorite — “Happy Birthday, Marty Ryan” — that features the best guitar work on the album. “The Smile of Rachel Ray” charms with its piano-xylophone pairing, and it’s here that Mead sounds closest to the listener. It’s a surprising holiday song that is somehow endearing and comical at the same time.
For some, Mead can be an acquired taste given the contradictory nature of the music. If you’re new to Mead, it’s an exercise to take in a slower ballad that suddenly turns coarse in its language or subject. But that is Mead’s time-tested technique at work. He is a thoughtful songwriter who has never been afraid to pair a lyric or melody with its opposite.