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David Wilcox

Underneath

(Vanguard)

It would not be an exaggeration to claim that I spent the winter of 1990 obsessed with How Did You Find Me Here, David Wilcox’s second album. I loved the quiet melodies and clear, gentle tones of Wilcox’s voice and played the album over and over again. The songs were sad, funny, and seemed filled with piercing insights. And then the next album came out and ruined it all for me, with its overpopulated backup vocals and swelling instrumentals.


Luckily, Underneath is a return to the stripped-down acoustic style that I love. In “Leaving You,” the album’s ninth song, Wilcox is accompanied only by finger-picked guitar and occasional piano as he describes the last stages of the disintegration of a relationship without melodrama – and without the help of throngs of backup singers.


That said, it must be admitted that the songwriter does stray over to the dark side of new age spirituality or politically correct activism from time to time. “Spirit Wind,” for instance, opening with ghostly, moaning, blown-conch-shell-esque sounds and backed by Native American beats, overshoots Wilcox’s talent for emotional sincerity to produce a painfully earnest paean to the higher mysteries of inner forces. Nevertheless, Underneath is a welcome relief to those missing the introspective musicianship of Wilcox at his finest.

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Tagged as: david wilcox
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