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David Dondero | The Transient (Future Farmer)
The press release with this record does its very best to let us know that David Dondero has been making music since the early '90s and first crossed paths with Lincoln, NE's production maestro Mike Mogis back in '94. "It was hearing his voice that made me comfortable with my own," a quote from Conor Oberst is sat at the top of the page. But, and sadly so, every review of this record is destined to include reference to the similarities between Dondero and Oberst's voices. Rather than distance himself from Nebraska's most famous son, Dondero has assembled a band that includes Bright Eyes' Tiffany Kowalski and Casey Scott alongside Mogis (who produces) and Oberst himself, inexplicably called upon to provide back-up singing.
With that out of the way, what else is to be said of The Transient? Well, as its title suggests, it's a record peppered with tales from the road. Musically unadventurous,  Dondero's raw, staccato guitar songs owe as much to Billy Bragg as they do to the Americana of Wilco. The songs are wordy in number if sufficiently straightforward to resist further comparison to Oberst, and sound like songs you've heard in subways or on open-mic nights at countless clubs. What they lack is anything (besides that voice) to raise them above such well-intentioned, heart-on-sleeve serenades

Matt Dornan
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003