Music Review: David James Allen’s “By The Summertime”: A Boundaries-Pushing Americana Masterpiece!

David James Allen

 

David James Allen’s latest album, “By The Summertime,” is a testament to his artistic growth and ability to push the boundaries of Americana music. Allen, a Canadian singer/songwriter, has been consistently delivering his unique blend of rootsy funkiness and soulful melodies over the past decade. With this fourth full-length effort, he continues to captivate listeners with his evocative songwriting and musical versatility.

The album’s creation was sparked by unexpected circumstances, as Allen found himself needing to produce a new record within a specific time frame. This led him to explore a fresh approach to songwriting, embracing a clean slate and experimenting with different writing styles. The result is a collection of ten songs that showcase Allen’s poetic prowess and his recent interest in jazzy guitar playing.

Working alongside co-producer William D. Crann, Allen embarked on a recording process that blended old and new. Utilizing online sessions and in-person recording at Catherine North Studios in Ontario, he captured his own parts first and then added a variety of instruments through overdubbing. This collaborative effort with old friends and collaborators gives the album a rich and diverse sound, ranging from the breezy opener “Billowed” to the swampy vibes of “The Devil And Me” and the soulful charm of “Blush And Hide.”

Allen’s lyrical inspiration draws from Canadian poets Al Purdy and Nelson Ball, infusing his songs with introspective depth. Tracks like “Holly” and the first single, “Another Day Older,” delve into themes of hard living, old relationships, and personal growth. The latter features a shimmering string arrangement by Jillian Sauerteig, adding an enchanting layer to the introspective exploration.

While Allen’s music has an otherworldly quality at times, he remains grounded as an artist. In addition to his musical pursuits, he expresses himself through graphic design work, including his own projects and collaborations. For the artwork of “By The Summertime,” Allen took a different approach, using a framed embroidered piece created by his neighbor, Deb. By digitizing this folk art, he found a visual representation that aligned with the album’s creative process—filled with passion and the comforts of home.

David James Allen effortlessly strikes a balance between simplicity and boundary-pushing. “By The Summertime” is a testament to his ability to inspire wonder through music, offering a treasure trove of captivating melodies and thought-provoking lyrics. With each track, Allen invites listeners to experience a sense of musical discovery and explore the world from a fresh perspective.

Catch David James Allen on his upcoming tour, where he will undoubtedly deliver captivating performances that showcase the depth and beauty of his music. “By The Summertime” is yet another testament to his talent and will undoubtedly solidify his place among the top Canadian contemporary artists.

Written by Anissa Sutton

DAVID JAMES ALLEN
By The Summertime

01 Billowed
02 The Devil And Me
03 By The Summertime
04 Holly
05 Just As You Are
06 Another Day Older
07 Blush And Hide
08 Nuthouse
09 One Day You’ll Wake Up
10 Don’t Pry Me Open

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