Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New Music Review: David Hopkins - There Are Debts


There Are Debts is the latest release by David Hopkins. Hopkins, formerly of the band Lir, has put together yet another stunning CD. The subdued titular song is a duet with Damien Rice and features a mournful piano and a subtle brass arrangement.

Dutch songstress Laura Jansen (who toured with Joshua Radin in 2008), provides backing vocals on this and three other tracks. When she duets with Hopkins on the melancholy "Dublin," we fully realize how beautifully-matched their voices are.

However, the star power on There Are Debts is not the most impressive thing about it; its value lies in the songs themselves. The songs refuse to follow a formula and each is exciting and addictive. The earnestness with which Hopkins delivers his lyrics - he is the sole songwriter on this disc - is as impressive as the cleverness of the lyrics themselves.

Immediately Hopkins grabs your attention with the confident, "I Want Your Love," a rocking number that gives you a good indication of what the next forty minutes has in store. It makes a great first impression -- one which doesn't disappoint.

"God You're Letting Me Down" stands out as the strongest song in all aspects: the lyrics are unflinchingly honest and address the desperation many feel when looking at the world today. ("Come on, you're long overdue, give me some reason to trust you.") In addition to being a superiorly-written song lyrically, the hook is gripping and the musical composition comes as close to a "perfect" song as I have heard in years. Gorgeous backing vocals and an overlapping chorus form a grand finish very fitting of this tune.

One would think that a song like that would be impossible to follow as a mid-disc track, but Hopkins is too quick to fall into that trap. The Caribbean rhythm of "Money" is fun and light-hearted while taking a pithy dig at materialism.

Hopkins himself is a gifted vocalist, but he has learned how to multiply the quality of that gift by employing many harmonies and backing vocals, like in the piano-driven "In the Country."

"When I Was Young" is a feat of drumming excellence with an unintentional admonition: "when I was young I was told that my days were done / so I acted like someone who was no one / when I was young I was made to feel nothing / so I acted like someone who was nothing."

It's clear that writing is also a strong suit with Hopkins, and we get many fine examples of that on this disc. "Angels in the Satellites" has a jubilant chorus which is impossible to ignore, and the song is replete with unique and inventive similes which are a writer's delight. The Who's Pete Townshend calls him "a kick in the arse to his genre."

As if to prove that Hopkins doesn't take himself too seriously, the album closes with "Igloo": a tongue-in-cheek love song. Well, Hopkins is correct in stating, "We are crazy, but no one's perfect."

With this disc, he comes close.

There Are Debts was released in September of 2009 and is available on iTunes, Amazon downloads, CD Baby, and other music retailers.

Copyright © 2010 Natalie Herman and Paddy-Whacked Radio™

Originally posted on Paddy-Whacked Radio™

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