David Vandervelde: Shadow Sides

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

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David Vandervelde
Shadow Sides
(Secretly Canadian/Park the Van)
2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Self-recorded and mixed in his Chicago apartment with a Tascam four track cassette recorder, and it sounds it, Vandervelde’s third full length album is a conscious attempt to retreat to a purely solo, less polished, edit free sound. It’s a worthy notion that has been done well by others but the concept wears as thin as the compressed sound after a few songs.

The indie pop tunes resonate with strong Brian Wilson styled vocal overdubs, especially on the album’s opener, “Where Are You.” There are strains of early Todd Rundgren in both the execution and theory and the multiple voice and guitar overdubs are impressive in their intricate arrangements. But the album is severely hampered by the reliance on a cheap, brittle drum machine, little to no bottom end and a feeling that these tunes would have been far better served with a less back to the basics approach.

A few tracks like the hazy, drugged out “Slow Burn” with its overdriven psychedelic guitar, work reasonably well in this primitive format. But many simply meander and lay flat with sonics that grate on listener’s ears. By the time it all closes down in a relatively compact 36 minutes, most will breathe a sigh of relief.  Vandervelde’s dreamy, high pitched vocals get tiresome quickly and between the compressed audio and lack of a band, this is a solo venture that badly needs an outside producer to better direct his muse.

There is enough talent and promise in Vandervelde to leave this as a noble yet failed experiment and anticipate more fully realized projects by the artist in the future.

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