In a smoky spoken word drawl, David Anderson sparks up “Charline Arthur,” the opening track of his brand new record Lake Placid Blue, and simultaneously opens the floodgates separating us from a venerable ocean of folk music might. On the back of a rollicking acoustic groove, he marches his lyrical attack to familiar yet archaic beat that recalls the ancient sounds of singer/songwriters now long gone. Drums slip and slide into each other, leaving only a slight echo as they do, and eventually lead us into the gilded strum of “Mystic Knights of the Folk-Rock Wars,” a hindsight ballad that makes the most of Anderson’s endearing vocal timbre, which comes to us as tortured by the memory of love as it is guided by its undying light.
“Tulsa Riot” injects Lake Placid Blue with a fiery realism that is sobering and melancholic, telling us a tale of violent racism and bigotry that would turn anyone’s stomach were it not presented to us in the tone that it is. Anderson doesn’t back away from the provocative as we press on, diving into another elegiac melody with “I Won’t Break Your Heart” that sears its emotionality into your soul after only a single listen. You can tell that while the narratives of the material are eclectic, David Anderson shares a legitimate connection with every song he sings on this record. His words are too real, too full of vitality and truth to have come from anywhere else but his heart.
The sway of “Big Star” comes to our rescue as “I Won’t Break Your Heart” fades away, lifting us from somber spirits and taking us back towards the stellar swing that we started out with. A beautiful title track keeps the major key fluidity flowing steadily as we enter the latter half of Lake Placid Blue, but it isn’t until we make contact with “Trouble All My Life” that we begin to fully experience the blistering energy that Anderson is capable of expelling on a whim. In a lot of ways, this album is all about showcasing the different angles of his dynamic skill set, while in another sense I view it as Anderson’s attempt at reviving a significant piece of Americana that we’re starting to lose in our modern era.
A stylish pop melody pushes “The Edge of Yes” through the stereo with unrivaled strength as we near the end of Lake Placid Blue, but David Anderson still has one powerful ode to impart to us in “The Belle of New Haven (Sarah Winchester Speaks from Beyond),” a nearly eleven-minute acoustic fever pitch that ultimately ties everything together and leaves us shaken by its elegant words. Free of filler and packing just as much, if not more, of a punch as any rock n’ roll album you’ll come across this year, Anderson’s most recent offering wasn’t conceived by an A&R department or any other arm of a major label’s front office. Anderson comes to us with nothing but warmth and wisdom in these nine songs, and somehow manages to share both with us in a way that few artists are ever able to pull off successfully.