For his follow-up to 2014’s debut, I’m Not Here, singer-songwriter Dave Fidler decided on something different. He spent last August conscientiously challenging his creativity by writing a song every day (chronicled on his website: a fascinating read) and eight of those songs are distilled into Songs From Aurora.
As the Aurora of the title is Fidler’s caravan, perhaps it’s natural that there’s a strong feeling of movement across many of the songs. From opening track, ‘On The Line’, whose deceptively gentle acoustic guitar intro ushers in a fraught tale of peril and survival, to the reflective, almost plaintive, ‘Another Word For Home’ encapsulating life on the road, there’s a sense of a constantly shifting horizon.
Whilst the beautiful and quietly uplifting featured single ‘Skylark’ flutters with a tentative optimism, ‘Sum Of Days’ is all restless energy. It contemplates the need to live true to ourselves (though the impeccably placed distant siren in the background helps suggest that freedom might have a cost). By contrast, ‘Will I Ever Learn?’ is that little nagging voice of conscience that might hold us back, or keep us safe. Its deliciously slouchy, porch-and-rocking-chair country-blues nicely counterpoints some tartly self-critical lyrics.
Fidler’s flair for contrasting musical arrangements helps sharpen the impact of his lyrics. The bleakness of ‘Heart Of Stone’ comes soaked in bright, sun-drenched guitar and mellow Hammond organ. The Hammond is used to different effect elsewhere, adding a sleazy undertow to the low-slung blues-rock of ‘The Water’ or blowing in like a rolling stone to the karmic ‘Breeze’.
He also shines a compassionate spotlight on family and friends. There’s a delicately longing song about someone absent, in ‘For You’, whilst ‘Let Her Go’ shows two distinct moods. A light syncopation accompanies some abstract concept of letting a loved one go, before shifting to a full-blown, directly apologetic blues.
Fidler delivers two exquisite and heartfelt songs dedicated to his parents. His respect for his mother’s life as a single parent is the subject of the Dylan-ish ‘Eternal Road’ whereas ‘Home’ confronts the cause: the death of his father. This final track with its spare, serious piano and gospelly backing vocals, is brutal with raw emotion.
Songs From Aurora reinforces Fidler as a fine songwriter making powerful and truthful emotional connections.
Artist website: www.davefidler.com
‘Skylark’ – official video: