Rhythm & Views

David D'Alessio

With his latest album, local singer-songwriter David D'Alessio explores the tender and mostly hidden parts of being human, the ability to give love and to cause hurt, to be careless and to enrich. The settings he creates for these 11 impeccable songs are steeped in traditional folk-pop song-craft, treading delicately in the arena of chamber-pop without being twee--a radical departure from the alternative rock of his band Let's English.

His high tenor sounds like a cross between the voices of Loudon Wainwright III, Dan Fogelberg and especially Duncan Sheik. Much of the credit for the album must be shared with producer Kelley Dolan, who also sang and played keyboards and clarinet.

D'Alessio and Dolan create clever, clear-eyed arrangements from a wide variety of influences: gentle jazz, subtle Latin rhythms, pop standards, gentle folkie strumming. From the starkness of songs such as "Savor the Cold" and "Under Orion," to the urbane groove of "Love Is on the Way" (which sounds like the music of Steely Dan, sans the cynicism), it's a pleasing assortment of sounds. "Said Too Much" and "Year on Mars" are excellent examples of the sort of big-screen-scope pop songwriting that hasn't been in fashion for decades.

The album's highlight is "Blackout," a cutting rumination on how experiencing crises makes us more vulnerable and honest. It's an apt allegory for personal relationships, exploring how even in the aftermath of crisis, we are irrevocably changed.

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