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In his new album Last Surviving Son, singer/songwriter David Gelman digs as deep as he ever has and turns in his most emotive material yet in what can only be described as a divine amalgamation of Americana, folk-rock and classic country swing. “Far Away,” “Feel Alright,” “Lonely Tonight” and “Let It All Go” alone would have made for a killer extended play, but instead of weighing down the other nine tracks on the record with a lot of pointless filler and sonic excess of the worst kind, Gelman joins these four powerhouses with songs that match their sonic strength and depth of passion in every possible way. If Undertow was a statement album, than this LP is undoubtedly the next evolutionary stage of its designer’s development as an artist.
The instrumentation is even more expressive than the vocals are in “Set It Free,” the piano-clad “Presence of the Lord” and potently poetic “Because You Love Me,” but Gelman never leans on one aspect of his sound over another in any of these tracks. In every instance where the cathartic guitar textures are telling us a story, there’s a sweet serenade present to colorize the emotion in the strings and give some context to the tenacious tones that we’re hearing. Last Surviving Son is a multilayered offering to put it very mildly, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it’s a complicated listen at all. Every time I put this record on, it’s hard to turn it off without taking in all thirteen of the songs that it contains.
This master mix is sublimely smooth, and I like that it isn’t overly polished or geared specifically towards FM airplay. Don’t get me wrong – “My Vows to You (Wedding Song),” “In the Sun,” the title track and “Soft Surrender” all have the chops to suit the playlists of a college radio crowd or a mainstream country station alike, but in all of my analysis of these songs, I’ve never walked away feeling like I had heard something that was designed with a bank account’s bottom line in mind. David Gelman strikes me as an artist who makes music for the sake of imparting a little piece of his soul unto the world, and that’s partly what makes his work so attractive in this age of overwhelming pop gluttony and egocentrism.
I only just recently got into this artist, but I can tell you now that I’m very excited to hear more of his work in the future. Having compared his past releases with this latest studio cut, I don’t think there’s much room for debating whether or not Gelman has come into his sound since first arriving on the scene back in 2011, and it’s possible that Last Surviving Son could be the record to finally lift him from the obscurity of the underground into the limelight of the primetime stage once and for all. There’s no shortage of soulful country singers making their mark on audiences this year, and David Gelman is one of the most genuine and heartfelt that I’ve come across in the last few months.