July 19, 2024

David Ramirez – An adequate gig isn’t enough when the calendar is packed with live acts

Live at The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 6th September 2018

He’s got a great voice, has David Ramirez, but that’s not enough to bring in more than a token audience on a Tuesday in peak gig season. It’s a shame, as this time David has brought a full band. Perhaps it’s the small crowd that fails to inspire, but the set is never more than workmanlike.

DR 2

Promisingly, the interval is soundtracked by Neil Young and the influence shows at times. The third song has a strong sense of late-eighties Young – minor sevenths and hard rocking. It’s one of the stronger pieces – angry about America’s promise to the migrant being back-pedalled by a white power elite. In theme it reminds me of Lou Reed’s Dirty Boulevard. The next song is more typical – Telephone Lovers, and carries a slow, weeping pedal steel. It’s a good band, with that pedal steel able to float and wrap like a silken ghost. The bass is regularly interesting and the keys so right that they become invisible. Songs switch between gentle Americana, singer-songwriter confessionals and full band rocking – which Ramirez clearly enjoys.

DR 3

It’s the material that lets things down. Time is a song about drinking on a Tuesday that strays towards novelty country & western when the emotional import intends to run deeper A lot of songs are about feeling guilty about drinking and create a sense of the autobiographical without the emotional honesty that marks out really successful Americana. Most of the songs are about love or a slice of life or confessional and, as I listened, I wished they had the lyrical fluency to really connect. Songs like Dancing And Vodka – “I want to take you dancing in your own living room” – carry too much of the weight of quirky Nashville creations to engage the heart. Alternatively a song about growing up and selling songs instead of only singing for passion (“how do you make it last”) rings a little tritely.

DR 4

I love hearing new things and I deliberately approached David Ramirez without listening to the albums, expecting to be won over by the voice. Sadly, I found a strong voice and the very best intentions hampered by adequate material. That’s the way it goes and it’s always worth giving an act a listen. Ramirez feels his material strongly and the themes are strong, yet somehow there is too much run-of-the-mill sentiment allied to expression that belongs in mainstream country.

DR 5

DR 1

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