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David Massey | Blissful State of Blue (Poetic Debris)
You like your Country with a bluegrass filter? You like banjo pickin' in the background, a singer with a likeably gentle voice, songs that tell stories and keep you interested until the last bar? Welcome to David Massey territory. Massey's has been compared to the likes of Lucinda Williams, John Prine, Steve Forbert and Todd Snyder, but he really has a strong enough identity to stand up for himself. 'Blissful State of Blue' is a charming album, recorded with a basic band comprising Zan McLeod (guitars, bass), Robbie Magruder (drums) and Jason Byrd (backing vocals). But onto the simple musical framework that informs most of the songs on this debut CD, Massey grafts accordion, the aforementioned banjo, piano etc., to produce interesting soundscapes. Each song has a complete identity. Take The Drunken Letter, based on a note from a twenty-six-year-old fighter pilot, George Rarey, stationed in England in 1944. In it, Rarey describes his joy at becoming a father. Three months later he is dead. Massey's adaptation of the story is sensitive and erudite, with Fred Lieder's keening cello adding pathos. Massey's not afraid to rock out, though, with Angeline guaranteed to get you whistling the chorus in next to no time. In many ways, Massey reminds me of a countrified Al Stewart - his voice has that high, gossamer quality that has been Stewart's trademark for years. Added to that, his obvious storytelling ability, and you have a great combination.

John Stacey
November-December 2004

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