The title track from his third LP, Last Surviving Son, sees David Gelman giving full reign to his careworn voice’s storytelling prowess.
Beginning with the roll of brushes marking out a military snare pattern (which is soon joined by the rhythm of acoustic strums on guitar), the lyric immediately starts asking soul-searching questions. It sits proudly atop a backing of violin, guitars, bass and then drums which are introduced at the top of the chorus.
The pre-chorus retains the military feel to sustain a tension that’s then released when the chorus arrives to open up the song.
A word here about the caliber of players on this album. Gelman has assembled an impressive clutch of musicians indeed, and they are given space to explore their colours in full. Their obvious ease with the material and their interplay and natural expressiveness is wonderful.
Last Surviving Son tends to eschew flashy moments in favour of direct connection and straight-ahead narrative. The song flows with great assuredness, and the casual listener will instinctively know when the chorus is coming around! It’s not just that the songwriting is of the classic variety, the bluesy twang to the lead vocal cues it up each time.
There is no question of a lead vocal performance being copied and pasted into position here, the variety of takes between the repeated patterns is as organic and fresh as you like, giving the song a living, beating heart to focus on. Smooth.