David Fitzpatrick’s new album Parachutes in Hurricanes is the latest disk to make its way north from Milwaukee via Gary Tanin’s Daystorm Records. I was only able to give it a quick run through when Gary first sent it our way to preview and that is a poor way to listen to a new record. By the second run through, I was hearing a depth to the music that I missed on the first quick listen. The quick take on David Fitzpatrick: he has a gritty, soulful voice that is a perfect foil for the songs he has written for this CD, seven of which were co-written with Tanin. Word is that it will now hit the streets later this month, so this would be a great time to start spreading the word about another great album from Daystorm.
The last record that I spent a lot of time with before Parachutes arrived was Little Steven’s Disciples of Soul record Soulfire. Fitzpatrick’s opening track, Lost on the Same Street, sounds like it could have come from Little Steven himself. It is a story song with the aforementioned gritty vocals and an interesting mix that adds shadowy background vocals echoing the main voice. The song hits second gear about 40 seconds in mimicking another Little Steven-like trick that brought me back to the Soulfire comparison. Long Way Down slows things down a bit and features a great shimmering organ sound supporting the simple, uncluttered guitar figure noodling underneath (think Mark Knopfler here). This second track also has a haunting second vocal part that adds yet another interesting texture to the song.
Track three (Half a Mile) opens with a rather jaunty vocal/guitar/organ interplay that seques into a shuffling chorus. I really like the way the organ, piano, and the ethereal tones float in the background. Half a Mile is eminently humable, especially after they pick up the tempo for the chorus. The guitar and wistful vocal opening of How I Wish rides a leslie organ riff that adds piano and more shimmery organ fills as layers are added to the song. While there are a lot of moving parts to Fitzpatrick’s tunes, he and Tanin have produced arrangements that sound full without turning the mix into a muddy mash of mush. How I Wish uses mellow background vocals and clean piano punctuations to keep things moving along. The half spoken lyrics near the end of the track evoke strong, yearning emotion.
All In Tonight features Fitzpatrick’s vocals. While he doesn’t have an multiple octave range, his vocals fit the songs very well. The cleverly arranged harmony and background vocal parts have plenty of room to move and breath around the main vocal line. One hardly notices the string passages here, but even though they are subtle, they are essential for the overall feel. The drumming is steady all across the album, but there are also some interesting patterns thrown like the bridge to the chorus at 1:52 and again at 2:28 of All In Tonight. The introduction to Your Ghost stays the course with the mellow mood that pervades the first six tracks of Parachutes. The tempos vary from track to track, but there is more ‘sway’ to the music than ‘rock’ which is perfectly fine for Fitzpatrick’s introspective songs. Your Ghost isn’t a rocker, but it slowly picks up momentum until it is moving along quite nicely. Track seven (Money Isn’t Everything) picks up the beat with a punchy snare sound and bouncy bass line that helps propel the tune. This is the second track that evokes Little Steven’s New Jersey sound: jangly guitar, horn fills, pounding piano, gang vocals, slightly fuzzed guitar. Come to think of it, the vocals sound as much like Southside Johnny as they do Little Steven’s.
The jazzy I’m So Happy gets back into mellow territory but it isn’t at all like the earlier tracks. If the album credits said ‘horn line played by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’ I wouldn’t doubt it. Clean, jazzy guitar lines, chirpy organ and a happy vocal make this an interesting track. Bed of Roses mixes tremolo guitar and more tasty organ. I am a sucker for organ and Fitzpatrick gets a lot of help from Tanin in this regard. I like the way this song builds the intensity before winding down toward the end.
There is no doubt that Fitzpatrick and Tanin can craft memorable pop tunes. If I Could, the fourth track attributed to Fitzpatrick alone, is short, but catchy. I found myself nodding my head side to side the same way I did when I first heard Weezer’s Buddy Holly. The album closes with the piano driven, string sweetened Done To Me. I absolutely love the way they deploy the organ across this album. Fitzpatrick doesn’t perform a lot of vocal gymnastics, but as stated previously he sounds to me like a mixture of Little Steven, Southside Johnny, with a side order of Colin Hay from Men at Work thrown in.
It will be a pleasure to put this album on the air when it finally hits the street. Many thanks to Gary Tanin for sending it along for us to preview!
Top Piece Video – No new postings yet but here is a 2014 festival clip by the David Fitzpatrick Band.