David Heatley – If…
Recorded in Arnaudville, Louisiana, this David Heatley sophomore LP features 10-cuts & from the start If… is reminiscent of the 60s melody-makers Burt Bacharach & Hal David. They wrote many songs similar to this for Dionne Warwick, Herb Alpert (“This Guy’s In Love With You”) & others. But the song itself on this CD is good, written with a hat-tip to the past & even if it’s a little retro with the light trumpet notes cascading from the band in a friendly manner — that was popular in the 60s. Even game shows used the music as intros. From the Bacharach studio band, Bert Kaemphert’s Orchestra, Herb Alpert & Al Hirt it was music that was popular & worked.
Heatley’s joined by members of the Lost Bayou Ramblers & Givers, along with Julie Odell, Lilli Lewis & Tony-award winner Michael Cerveris. The string, horn & woodwind arrangements by Jimbo Walsh.
Heatley’s lead vocals are smooth, concise & precise. He proves he can rock with “Mess,” with its blaring instruments, miscellaneous speech, wailing guitar & tribal beats. It features Ramblers Louis Michot’s fiddle. It’s exciting — though I think it would mislead those who appreciate the first song. Here’s a pretty tune & now here’s something that’s going to mess up your hair.
But Heatley does a good job as he covers many bases with skill. “Beautiful Ending,” is impressive with its steady well-arranged horns, propulsive drums & Heatley’s rather laid-back vocals in the territory of the late Kenny Rankin.
Produced by David, If…(Drops March 24-Dream Puppy Records) keeps the songs well-articulated, breezy & versatile. “Run Away With You,” spotlights Louisiana-born chanteuse Sarah Quintana. It’s performed also in a retro 60s style, but they never succumb to the dust of oldies. They keep everything more reflective than vintage.
Sung with proficiency these middle-of-the-road, easy-listening tunes have nothing over emotive ala Josh Groban or high-octane Sinatra like Michael Bublé. David seems to subscribe to a little soul the way Harry Connick, Jr. does.
“Dancing Inside Out,” is an excellent Latin-flavored tune that features Mexican rapper & actress Emma Ramos as she speaks in Spanish over the melody the same way Eric Burdon & War’s female vocalist did on “Spill The Wine.”
Despite the lushness, the music manages to negotiate terrain that lays down persuasive melodies. Sarah Quintana adds a French swooning ambiance in “It’s Midnight.” This album embodies all the qualities & sterling turns of fine easy-listening music with expertise.
Musicians – Louis Michot (fiddle/BG Vocals), Bryan Webre (bass/electric guitar), Sam Kuslan (electric guitar), Jim Kolacek (drums), Rex Gregory (baritone sax) with Emma Ramos, Lilli Lewis & Michael Cerveris (backing vocals).
Highlights – “Beautiful Ending,” “Mess,” “Run Away With You,” “Dancing Inside Out,” “Too Sad To Write This Song” “Clean Living” & “It’s Midnight” & “If…”
Music sample & purchase @ https://davidheatley.bandcamp.com/track/mess
Color image by Greg Kessler. CD @ https://www.davidheatley.com/