DAVID UDELL – It’s Worth It

David Udell 2024

Missourian master of six-string strangeness and twangy warmth is back with a restrained vengeance.

It’s Worth It

A state of hurry seems alien to David Udell’s nature. In order to see it the potential listener has to cast a single glance at the St. Louis guitarist’s discography which, until recently, consisted of only the records – one per each ensemble – he cut in the early ’80s with EARWACKS, WAX THEATRICKS and DELAY TACTICS as well as his individual debut “Orchids” from 2015. But seven years later the last of these collectives returned with the fantastic "Elements Of Surprise" – and now the veteran is carrying the same wide-eyed, life-affirming philosophy into his sophomore effort as a solo artist, with an element of doubt and a vaguely outlined concept thrown in for good measure. To fully grasp what’s going on here a few spins of the album might be in order, yet Udell’s audience must refer to the platter’s title – should David’s deceptive uncertainty prove too infectious, even though the titular finale doesn’t hold all the answers his songs pose.

On the surface, there’s just a single question – packed in the spiritual soundscape of “Is It Worth It?” which gets placed close to the record’s end where the master’s drily delivered, half-spoken lyrics contrast his cosmic instrumental palette with down-to-earth existential wonder. And if Udell’s wildest dreams project rhetorical remarks, they’re nothing more than an attempt to rock the premise of two cuts that set the scene for this inner dialogue: “Made My Peace” and “Solid Ground” – the former a solemn, effects-laden dive into the player’s soul, the latter a fluttery, glittery paean to the process of aging – that are David’s endeavors to reconcile his present and past. The musician could sound querulous in psychedelic opener “Watching The Freak Parade” but the piece’s catchy riffs and motorik groove add a fantasy layer to the proceedings, especially when his piano ripples underpin sweet rolls of slider, and while one wouldn’t want the Missourian to predict the weather, as the “America’s gone insane” line in the flute-flaunting, light balladry of “It’s Beginning To Look Like Rain” can hardly define the country’s current climate, the progressive grandeur of “Slow Song” – a multicolored mini-epic and a stylistically precise reply to social issues raised ages ago on “The Dark Side Of The Moon” – is nigh on phenomenal and is worth the price of admission alone.

On the contrary, “The Motion Song” needs less than a minute-and-a-half for its handclaps-helped carpe diem before “Our River” twangs towards rainbow-like rapture and “Unexplored Expanses” in which Udell’s strings capture the transmissions of Russian astronauts and flesh out their nostalgia until the acoustic statement of the title track “It’s Worth It” provides an imposing landing for David’s ideas. And his ideas are plenty, so hopefully a follow-up to this album won’t take long to arrive.


June 26, 2024

Category(s): Reviews
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