I enjoyed David Roberts’ debut album, St Clears, principally for his arrangements although I found his lyrics rather too stream-of-consciousness. Hearing the first few tracks from Travelling Bright I was immediately hooked by his music all over again. He plays four different guitars, bass and eight other instruments calling only on Kirsten Miller on cello, Aidan Thorne on double-bass and Daan Temmick for most of the piano.
The opener, ‘A Million Winds’ is almost an instrumental with just three lines of lyrics and there are two fully instrumental tracks, ‘Garillon’ and ‘Winter Sun’. I tried harder to concentrate on the lyrics, hopefully to figure out how he puts a song together although anyone who uses the word “octarine” is already ahead of the game as far as I’m concerned. Let’s take ‘The Holloway’ as an example. Although David is from Herefordshire, it’s reasonable to suppose he’s writing about Holloway Road in Islington. He takes a series of images and spins them into a sort of narrative mixing his own feelings about the place into it. On one level it’s a vision of a snowy day in town and on another it’s a sort of pilgrimage of discovery. Or maybe I‘m just getting too pretentious for my own good but you can take whatever you want from the songs.
‘Grail’ and ‘Glass Bead Game’ are both stories without a back-story. The listener is dropped into the scenarios without explanation and left to figure them out. Both have a mediaeval, fantasy universe vibe in a late-sixties way – the sort of thing that Marc Bolan wrote and which David actually does better. In contrast is ‘Amber’ which is probably my favourite track. For all its poetry it feels direct and personal. On second thoughts my favourite track could be ‘The Old King Of Sunsets’; direct again and very simple.
Travelling Bright is an album you should really check out and take some time over. It deserves that.
Artist’s website: http://www.davidianroberts.com/
‘Grail’ – live in the studio: