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Issue: January 2011

Americana in the Trees

Song Tree (Independent)
David Dwyer

Madison, Indiana’s David Dwyer hung some guitars and banjos from a tree for his album cover – interestingly, the album in question, Song Tree, sounds pretty much exactly like what the album cover suggests.

Dwyer’s mournful songs are dripping in Americana traditions, with some beautiful acoustic guitar work, a bit of nice electric guitar and plenty of supporting instrumentation to fill in all the gaps.

Dwyer isn’t a great singer, but his vague twang fits the material much like the iconic photo on the cover. In “No One Wants to Be Here,” he sings about a town that has fallen on hard times. Classic American storytelling that anyone from a small town can relate to. (Is it a coincidence that he hails from the same part of the country of a guy named Mellencamp? Probably not.)

While Dwyer’s tunes are mostly straight-forward, the song arrangements really are meant to take a backseat to the storytelling in an effort like this one. Songs like “Need the Rain” rely as much on imagery as the music, which has a gospel feel.

The earnestness in “Circus Freak,” accentuated by the pleading harmonica, almost makes the subject matter a full-on parody – but I don’t think that’s what Dwyer was going for. It’s literally a song about a bummed-out carnie lamenting his life.

“Fool’s Errand” has a nice spooky vibe to it as well, which provides a nice spark in the latter half of the album. Like with much of the album, there’s no shortage of tremolo here to heighten the effect.

At the end of the day, though, Dwyer is just one of those souls who had some songs to get out of his system. He might not be breaking big in Nashville anytime soon, but you gotta give the man credit for sticking to his guns and telling his stories.

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