David Rotundo caused quite a stir with his initial recording, 2000’s “Blowin’ For Broke.” Bursting from the speakers with a full-bore attack that combined some serious chops with absolutely devastating tone, it was easily among the most promising debuts of the year.
But whereas that outing relied much on energy and enthusiasm, David’s follow-up, “Blues Ignited,” shows him a serious craftsman who’s spent the intervening years honing his songwriting; he composed all the material on this one (a couple with the help of featured guest Enrico Crivallero).
True, David’s lyrical concerns remain . . . well, earthy, rather than earth-shattering – witness titles like “I Want To Get Lucky,” “Wiggle A Little Boogie,” and “Drinking Overtime.” But the songs are much more than mere vehicles upon which to hang a series of solos. Instead, instrumental contributions are fully integrated for maximum effect, with the overall effect one of careful consideration. That’s not to say he lost any of his enthusiasm, however; I know it’s neither acoustically nor scientifically possible, but I’d swear I can ‘hear’ a huge grin on his face as he blazes his way through the disc’s fourteen tracks; this is a man who plays music not because he wants to, not because he needs to, but because for him there’s no more joyous pursuit.
And while David’s harmonica work may show a little more restraint this time out (file that, please, under artistic maturity), there’s still lots of dazzling dexterity on display, moments when David seems to virtually redefine the instrument’s capabilities. His vocals have improved as well, sounding less ragged, more controlled. There’s still room for growth - he’s just a bit shaky on some of the slower material – but one needn’t make any allowances. He’s good, and sure to get better.
David’s aided here by some of the best of Toronto’s young lions – the inimitable Peter Schmidt on guitar, with co-producer Shane Scott on bass and Greg Cooper on drums; Julian Fauth handles the keys. Guests include “Juno Jack” de Keyzer and his regular drummer, Tony Ajo, on “I Got To Move.” It’s Mr. Crivallero, though, who proves utterly revelatory here; his is work of the very highest calibre, whether he’s peeling off scorching leads or providing unerringly sympathetic accompaniment.
David could easily have satisfied fans with another outing just like the first. He’s got so much raw talent, one gets the impression that a follow-up could almost have recorded itself. To his credit, though, he’s taken his time, and the artistic growth amply evident on ‘Blues Ignited’ bodes well for David’s still-very-promising career . . .
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