David Arn Releases 14-Track Traveler Tales (LP)
When you think of the word epic in terms of music, you probably think of rock anthems. You think of “Bohemian Rhapsody” or even “Don’t Stop Believing”. You might overlook songs that more in the Americana and Roots Rock realm. You might want to re-think the word anthem and turn your attention to Virginia singer/songwriter David Arn. His new 14-track trek Traveler Tales is not the same adrenaline rushing, heart-pounding thrills you might crave, but your soul and your mind will be mightily glad you took a ride down this epic path.
In his artistic achievement, Arn manages to sing and convey how we see ourselves. Through song, he confides in the listener a caring, unassuming voice. That’s the center of his voice – Arn’s voice’s outer shell a gravelly, but kind voice. It’s makes the listener feel as though the narrative they are listening can only, and is meant to be heard by Arn. With the exception of two songs, “Mother’s Day – The Mother’s Tale” and “Silently Drifting to Paradise: The Sinner’s Tale”, Arn is the vocal lead. He hands the baton to the lovely Ava Hart. In doing so, Arn showcases his warm nature, and gives the listener an almost entirely different listening experience.
What makes these 14 tracks so good? Besides the interesting lyrics, and the steps Arn takes to ensure full stories, is the fullness of the songs. They sound great and lots of unexpected textures emerge. One of the main reasons the actual production is so solid is because Arn surrounds himself with the best-of-the-best. The players include Tobias Wilson (guitar, dobro, lap steel, bass), Joni Fuller (strings), Raz Ben Ari (guitar), Ian Smith (saxophone; Gladys Knight, Sister Sledge and The Temptations), Jordan McQueen (drums) and Tyra Juliette (Demi Lovato, Pharrell and Ed Sheeran). Alex Wharton (who has worked with Paul McCartney, The Pixies, Mumford & Sons and a slew of other) served as the master engineer via Abbey Road Studios. Traveler Tales shines best, well, frankly, when the violin strings, the steel guitar and the pesky percussion gets lost in the music and takes the listener into that sonic abyss. You want to live in that space for as long as you can.
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Some of my favorite songs on this album are “St. Paul’s Chimes: The Bystander’s Tale” and “Love Is Free: The Writer’s Tale”. These happen to fall towards the end of the album, but that’s not to say that the previous tunes aren’t amazing. They are. I found myself hitting repeat on these just a tad more. In “St. Paul” Arn leans into sounding like The Beatles and even creeps into some soft rock tones. “Love Is Free” is also 60s like with its delicious clunky guitars. The percussion is reminiscent of rock and roll. He paces himself in a unique tempo – love is free, all you should do is take it from me, Arn sings. What you did was crazy and beautiful, he sings. Maybe that’s the real theme of Traveler Tales. 14 songs – that’s crazy right? Maybe. But it’s also beautiful.