David Heatley – Life Our Own Way
Recorded in Louisiana this 15-cut CD is melodic & appealing with its light eccentric approach. At times, “Blowing Off the World,” sounds like David Heatley is vying to join The Korgis (“Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime,” “If I Had You”) or their earlier incarnation Stackridge.
David also touches the style rim of Sparks (the Mael Brothers) as he displays a quirkier modus operandi. But there are interesting morsels here.
Life Our Own Way (Drops Feb 11–Dream Puppy) is a varied collection produced by Mark Bingham (guitar). “Quarantine Blues,” is obviously a pandemic song. It’s humorous, inventive & entertaining, with a dash of old-fashioned 50s musical pastiche. The musical manner teeters on oddball but it’s like a cousin of New Wave/Deaf School (“All Queued Up”). A progressive rock stripe with commercial appeal.
The addition of female vocals spices things up. The title track is herky-jerky simplicity – like a numbered color-pencil drawing that’s placed in an expensive ornate frame. If a listener wants to listen to something that’s construed as left-field – Heatley would be on the shortlist.
Some tunes are diluted as in “If We Became Lovers.” Despite its loveliness, it’s well-performed. Too close to those exotica records of the 50s for me with lush melodies. Heatley may have known this since he follows with an inspired ballad “On Your Side.” This is charming. With the adolescent-like female vocals & Les Paul-type guitar, it has a degree of poignancy.
There have been numerous past singers that made LPs like this. Sam Leno in 1975 (Ordinary Man) had an assortment of silly/serious tunes. I can’t say David’s music is a hybrid of the early 70s bubblegum songs since his material has innovation. Such as Frank Zappa-type looniness (Meme), & an element of the more progressive late-career Turtles (“Your Maw Said You Cried In Your Sleep, Last Night,” “Rugs of Woods & Flowers,” “Chicken Little Was Right”). Well-tailored. Crazy songs.
“You Make Me Work,” is exceptional with sizzling fiddle by Louis Michot. “You Only Get So Much Time,” has the 60s tailored female soulful creamy backup. The suggestive “I Love You (Dum),” is playful but not for radio. The female vocals are quite good as The Shangri-Las sifted through 50s Rusty Warren LPs.
“Pissin’ White Light,” is also not for radio but embodied with clever music/lyrics. Michot returns to saw his fiddle but is even better on “Rock My Mind,” — he plays maniacally like Van der Graaf Generator’s Graham Smith.
Other musicians participating: Tif Lamson (vocals/percussion/marimba/baritone ukulele), Julie Odell & Lilli Lewis (BG vocals), Sarah Quintana (guitar/BG vocals), Bryan Webre (guitar/bass), Kirkland Middleton (drums), Michael Cerveris (vocals/guitar), Jana Saslaw (flute), Sam Kuslan (keys), & Cassie Watson Francillon (harp).
Color image courtesy of David Heatley’s website. The 48-minute CD: available @ https://www.davidheatley.com/