David Dondero probably can’t do much about the Bright Eyes comparisons—being on Conor Oberst’s Team Love Records label certainly won’t help—but what can you do? Like Oberst, Dondero is often hyperverbal, barely keeping lyrics from tumbling over one another. And like Oberst, Dondero possesses a quavering voice that often conveys emotion by cracking at just the right point. But Dondero’s been around awhile, since about 1993—long enough to explain Oberst citing Dondero as the influential one. Plus, whereas much of Oberst’s output comes across as diary pages set to music, Dondero seems much more interested in telling stories that are heavily rooted by a sense of place (2005’s South of the South centered on Florida). He also seems to have a bit of wanderlust. Standout track “Rothko Chapel” stems from a church in Texas, “The Prince William Sound” reminisces about Alaska, and “Stuck On the Moon” longs for escape from Oakland. San Francisco figures prominently, especially on “Double Murder Ballad Suicide”, but references to the city weave through most of Simple Love. Simple Love is an accomplished singer-songwriter effort that mixes evocative lyrics, some nimble guitar playing (often much less acoustic than previous discs), and a strong sense of personal history.
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