Years ago David Ensor – aka Silky Dave – was told by major record labels that he was trying to do too much in his music. They scratched their heads at his combination of rock, blues, country and pop, unable to figure out which bin in the record store (remember them) they could pigeonhole him.
The would-be actor-musician left Los Angeles in 1990 to return to his home area of Washington, D.C., where, years on, he makes a living performing and teaching guitar albeit “under suspicion,” as he says, instead of “under the radar.”
These days Silky Dave’s category is easier to quantify. He’s still combining his favorite elements from various genres, but Adult Contemporary just about does it. There’s measures of pop and jazz, rock and blues, blues and pop, and an overarching taste of Americana shot through it all, particularly in the twangy “Simple Life.”
“Simple Life” is the disc’s most resonant cut, bringing to bear all of Silky Dave’s strengths, from the smart use of putting Mike McCracken’s bluesy dobro on top of the mix to the lyrical content, which keeps to the theme of the 11-cut collection.
That theme, by the way, seems to be about a wistful yet cynical man nearing middle age and confronting a troubled world and an uncertain future – or resigning himself to living in “Middle Class,” the spare, country-flavored and lyrically honest cut that “Simple Life” melts into.
The theme is hammered home in “This Town Is Breaking My Heart,” which borrows the very Randy Newman-esque idea of painting over a wrenching scene – a homeless man amid a juvenile street gang – with a jazzy piano score. The tune builds nicely on the riff and successfully drives home the sentiment.
“Mama Wants to Know” addresses the concept of failure as the singer sends a message to the titular mother that he is indeed all right – begging the question, why did she have to ask in the first place? By the time we get to the gospel-like all-in finale we still wonder.
That dobro shows up again on “Nine Out of Ten,” a sweet-natured love song that works around the line, “If I had 10 thoughts today, baby, nine were of you.” The great Mary Ann Redmond sings harmony, at times haunting the song like the lover the singer is pining for.
The one true anthem in the collection is “We Need All Your Stars,” a call to arms summarized in the line “When you planet’s crying, there’s no time to fight, we need all your stars out tonight.” Built on a simple acoustic guitar figure, the song builds in the mind and rises in the heart. The video, available on YouTube, showcases the song to terrific effect.
Mike Jarvis’ bass does the heavy lifting early on in “The Dream,” setting the sinister tone for the disc’s most deliberately chaotic cut. “Forty years later, when is the dream going to start?” Is it an end-of-the-world warning or that middle aged man wondering what’s happened to his life?
“Building a Life” is a collection of mature numbers, without the sort of excess or recklessness that comes when one is emboldened by paying for the studio himself. The songs are sharply focused and, a rarity, sequenced in such a way as to make an impact on those paying attention to the premise.
I come to sell my CD, not to praise it. However, it is really good; I say so myself. And I am an honorable man. Roughly twenty years in the making, it was hardly worth the wait, but in the end I was not to be denied the chance to throw my disc into the smoldering embers of the digital economy. I know what you’re thinking (for you too are honorable). “Who is this Silky Dave to seek recompense for his music? Does he not know that music is now free?” While I agree that music these days is often free, I’d like to remind all my cyberfriends that quality studio time, excellent musicians and producers, talented graphic designers, and shrink wrap are not. (OK, I got Jep Epstein to play for free, but I’ve known the guy almost 25 years and he’s not only an honorable man and talented musician but also incredibly generous).
Bottom line: I paid a lot of talented musicians to play on this album, and all I ask in return is that you click on over to www.silkydave.com and check out the samples of the songs on the Music Page. If you like what you hear (and you will; that’s right…I say so myself and I am a repetitive man), you are just a click away from the Store Page where you will have the rare opportunity to fork over twelve bucks (shipping included) and have Silky Dave’s first full length CD, “Building a Life” shipped directly to you. For you cyberkids there’s also a download option for only $7.99…such a bargain. Act now and I’ll not only include this outstanding CD but also…and that represents savings of over…not to mention saving yourself the torment of living another day without the sounds of Silky Dave restoring meaning to your life.
So come on, cyberpeople…..stimulate my economy! You won’t regret it; I say so….right…..but seriously thanks for taking the time to listen and I hope that if it touches you at all (oh, it will…and…) that you will spread the good word throughout your universe (cyber or otherwise) because I’d really like the opportunity to take another shot at this. Your patronage will make that possible, and I thank you.
There is no debate….the final cut of “All Your Stars” is out and it’s even better than the original. Hard to believe I know, but we recovered footage from last week’s hard drive crash
(a short and digitally bloody tale that I won’t frighten you with here) and have incorporated some “lost shots” to enhance your viewing pleasure.
Thanks to all who watched the preview and for all the kind feedback we have received.
This time I ask that if you would like to make a comment, please post it on the YouTube site so that all may enjoy your thoughts. Those of you at a loss for words feel free to cut and paste from the following list:
1. I wasn’t going to vote, but after seeing your video I have seen the light. and he is
Obama! He’s got my vote! Love the bulldog…thanks… Newly Inspired
2.Great video! I’ve already voted for Obama by absentee ballot, but I’m so pumped up after watching the video I’m gonna vote for him again on Nov. 4th.! Obama! Obama!
3. I was going to vote for McCain, but then I looked at this video. Where did you find Abe Lincoln… and those parrots? What makes you so Silky, Dave? You can see Russia from my backyard. I love you Joe Six-Pack! I’ve seen ‘em all but that was one great video, I’m tellin ya’!….thanks so much… toodles…Sarah
We’re hoping your comments will bring more attention to the video and that those of you with time to spare will watch the video again and again and help inflate our “Views” numbers. (It beats watching the DOW Industrials ticker on the cable news channels.) Now, after watching the video and forwarding the YouTube URL to everyone you possibly can and then watching it seventeen more times, you must go to my new website:
www.silkydave.com . It’s still under construction, but most importantly you can download your own copy of the song “All Your Stars” for only 99 cents. I’m not sure why you would want to download more than one copy, but feel free because we’d like to make another video celebrating an Obama victory and we need your support to pull that off. A full CD of Silky Dave tunes should be out in time for Xmas.
That’s the mission. Should you choose to accept it, you can get started here:
Welcome to my website....that little piece of cyberspace where it's all about me.
Aaahhh me...my favorite subject and no doubt not yours, so let me take this opportunity
to thank all the "little people" who helped me to make this little piece of cyberheaven possible....
In the beginning (there was my mother...my debt to her will be paid by trying to remind myself to live each day with some of the grace and humor that both she and her mother shared) was my birthday (oh, glorious day) and on that last celebrated occasion I was given "domain" over all that is silkydave.com by two of my guitar students, Scott Hennessey and Colleen Cruikshank. A very thoughtful gift that reminded me to get off my ass and launch a website.
And so it was (and here she blows...) Lance Cookson, another guitar student (goddamn these people are useful...they give you money and perform unpaid labor) began designing the site in October 2008, despite the fact that he had never designed one before. But kids today are just so freakin' smart, and for a few free guitar lessons, you can't help but be impressed with the result. To lighten the load I found Bryan Bailey on Craigslist (where I find all my good stuff) who was offering to work real cheap in order to flesh out his portfolio. Bryan got us hooked up with WordPress and put some polish on Lance's layout. I'll make sure to have a link to Bryan's work in case you are in need of his considerable talents.
I want to thank all my guitar students whose patronage finances all of this and whose efforts to try and learn a diffcult instrument inspire me every day. I have a page dedicated to them (and of course, Me) which will eventually allow them to have their own posting sites and to swap songs and ideas. You will also be able to check out some of their recordings on the Music page.
Well enough about them...please go learn more about me, and when you're done basking in my cyberglow, please don't forget to navigate to the Store page and give the gift of music to yourself and to all those "little people" you really care about. Because in the end....
it's all about me....OK, and a little about you too ....but more about me...