David Mead makes arresting debut

by Kristin Szostek | 11/1/99 6:00am

Singer David Mead's debut album, "The Luxury of Time", artfully blends traditional folk music with rock and roll, along with a few other surprises.

The record, which narrates a story of falling in and out of love and moving on afterwards, is almost perfectly conveyed through the album's precisely placed sounds.

The arrangement of the thirteen tracks relates the album's intended meaning. The first three songs, "Robert Bradley's Postcard", "Sweet Sunshine" and "Touch of Mascara", though familiar-sounding, all emit a feeling of upbeat optimism that at first leaves the listener wondering if this will just be another record of songs that sound exactly alike.

But once the entire composition is heard, these songs' unvaried tones make sense.

After the first three tracks, the tone mellows to convey the experience of being in love. The next two songs are softer, with a dream-like quality. They are filled with lines like, "I can breath you in, I can take every moment", which work with the intended feeling, but are trite.

At this point the album picks up; the second half of "The Luxury of Time" is refreshingly varied because Mead ventures out of his previous songs' narrow range of musicality.

"Telephone", "She, Luisa" and "Make the Most of" are more electric songs, moving further out of the realm of traditional rock and roll and folk music. They are able to do this while continuing the album's overall story; each song has a quality of experience and perhaps slight remorse.

One of the best songs on the record is"Make the Most of." Mead utilizes a wide range of instruments, including the clarinet, an extensive percussion section, the wurlitzer, the swinger organ and the lap steel to create a dark, slightly eerie mood that reminds the listener of a smoky coffee house. "Make the Most of" is certainly Mead's most daring and creative track.

After repeat listening, it is obvious that this is a carefully made record. The combination of sharp songwriting, stellar guest musicians and a terrific production duo makes "The Luxury of Time" a complete work, with a definite beginning and end.

The album accomplishes both its goals, narration and musicality, and, when heard, there is no question of its message.