“Broken Down Figure” – David Saw

1 stars (out of 5)

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Reviewing can be a really difficult gig sometimes. Every album which actually gets a release represents a huge amount of work and creative input for the band or artist and deserves to be taken seriously. Sometimes, however, you get an album or single which tests your ability to dig out some kind of positive comment and, unfortunately, this falls into that category.

This is David Saw’s second album and the publicity surrounding it focuses on the fact that David’s best friend is James Taylor’s son, Ben Taylor and that one of his early songs was covered by Carly Simon who is Ben Taylor’s mum and ex-wife of James Taylor (the singer-songwriter ,not the English jazz organ player of JTQ fame). So Carly Simon covered a David Saw song. Why?

If you want to know why the singer/songwriter/troubadour genre vanished after a period of huge popularity in the early to mid-70s, this is a great demonstration. The genre became so popular that even the most mediocre acts managed to get record deals (a bit like Scottish bands in the mid-80’s). This album sounds like it came from the butt-end of the 70s troubadour boom.

David Saw has a reasonable voice and is a reasonable guitar player but the songs sound like they were written by an angst-ridden year 11 music student; musically they’re simplistic and lyrically it’s all a bit naïve. It’s frustrating to hear someone with a sliver of potential fail to deliver because they’ve pinned themselves into an out-dated frame of reference.

The singer-songwriter genre has undergone a dramatic shift since peaking in the mid-1970s. The style and the subject matter of artists like David Gray, Newton Faulkner and Jason Mraz is a world away from James Taylor, Carole King and Carly Simon. Unfortunately David Saw is firmly rooted in the 70s school of songwriting, concentrating on melancholy songs of lost love with the occasional lightweight, uptempo song (“Buy My Record”, for example) and that just isn’t enough for a 21st century singer-songwriter.

If you want to hear a good contemporary male singer-songwriter, listen to some of the people listed at the start of the previous paragraph, or maybe Neil Young if you want to hear someone who was part of the original scene which influenced David Saw’s songwriting. For a real wild card comparison, you could try the 2000 album “Northern Songs” by Lee Griffiths (also influenced by James Taylor) which is a much more gritty version of the British troubadour’s art. Alternatively, you could just listen to anything by Malcolm Middleton or Richard Hawley.

If David Saw can move away from the obvious 70s influences, then he may have something interesting to sing about but it doesn’t look good on the evidence of this collection.

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