Album Review: Davey O. – A Bright Horizon Line

Davey O.

photo courtesy of Davey O.

Davey O. – A Bright Horizon Line

The Backstory

I first encountered Davey O. at the Philadelphia Music Conference in the mid/late-1990s. At the time, I was publishing Geoff Wilbur’s Renegade Newsletter, and he was trying build his music career. He had a demo cassette with a handwritten name and phone number on it. I remember being impressed by the music on it. He remembers that I wrote a positive review, so apparently my memory is right. And all these years later, while I placed my writing career on hiatus for more than a decade, he built his fanbase, released more music, and became one of the more popular, widely-traveled touring musicians the northeastern quarter of the United States.

Album Review of Davey O.: A Bright Horizon Line

Davey O. - A Bright Horizon Line

image courtesy of Davey O.

Davey O. has a style all his own… and, at the same time, not unlike a lot of other top folk artists. Most importantly, his voice is insistent, tuneful, and carries a lot of emotion, exactly what’s necessary to tell a good story. He also approaches his songs vocally from a variety of angles, allowing his album to contain stylistic variance and remain entertaining from beginning to end. Indeed, on at least a third of his songs, there’s a more western style of strumming, earning Davey the occasional sub-classification of Americana, and rightly so. I’d say his more country songs perhaps categorize him alongside Willie Nelson, while his folk songs would place him onstage with anyone from Bob Dylan to Jim Croce, though Davey’s voice is a bit smoother. And while I wouldn’t classify his voice as gravelly, he is capable of accessing a rough edge whenever he ups the emotional ante. In any case, for anyone whose tastes are triangulated by (or even border) that trio of artists, Davey will hit your sweet spot.

Davey O.

photo courtesy of Davey O.

A Bright Horizon Line opens with “The Easy Work,” a powerful, familiar folk strum that combines with his textured vocals, enhanced by the warm sound of a good acoustic guitar, serving as a welcome and representative introduction to the disc.

The album closes with an intriguing folk version of “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” Davey’s one cover song on the disc, with a full, rich sound interacting well with his pleasingly strained, characteristically emotionally connected vocals.

In between, Davey weaves an interesting trail throughout A Bright Horizon Line, playing to his various strengths, relying on the familiar, textured voice and wisely-selected strumming patterns to connect with his listeners. This man is a true professional, an expert at his craft.

Davey O.

photo courtesy of Davey O.

Davey’s insistent, pleading, rough-hewn vocals drive “In Its Own Time” with a memorable edge that has, I’ve noticed, propelled it to some recognition within the folk community. I, meanwhile, favor “Just For Them,” with its more plainspoken, vocally-rawer emotional connection, combined with some nifty guitar-picking, almost like a folk-lullaby with a thoughtful message.

There’s some humor mixed in with life-examining lessons learned during “Making Good Time.” And you can hear a tortured soul in Davey’s voice during the lament-filled “Ok,” which closes with a pleasantly piano-supported guitar fade.

Davey O.

photo courtesy of Davey O.

The deployment of a harmonica on strummer “Coming Home” is a nice touch, as is the country twang supporting “Nothing Could Go Wrong.” In fact, there’s something seventies pop-folk-country in that song’s flavor; I think I hear crossover potential.

One of the more energetic songs on the record, “My Parade” is about the closest thing to a knee-slapper and foot-stomper you’ll find in this collection, with simultaneous picking and strumming guitar lines combining to boost the tempo. That’s followed by Davey’s poetic folk homage to his hometown, “To Buffalo.”

In the end, Davey O.’s voice and guitar show a bit of variety on the album, which is why it’s so easy to listen to in its entirety. It’s also what extends Davey’s appeal beyond just hardcore folkies. Check out A Bright Horizon Line. Regardless of your preferred genre, Davey’s voice will reach your soul, and the lyrics on at least one of his songs is likely to speak to something deep inside you. Now it’s up to you to give this disc a few listens to find that song.

Davey O.

photo courtesy of Davey O.

Looking Ahead

Davey O. tours widely and almost constantly. Centered in Buffalo, NY, his gigs span hundreds of miles in all directions. Look for shows near you on the tour page of his website. Dates are added as he books them, and there are currently some shows listed as far as 8 months out. Between now and the 4th of July, he’ll be in Pittsburgh, PA (June 1st), Zanesville, OH (June 2nd), Thomas, WV (June 3rd and 4th), Hamburg, NY (June 7th), Clarence, NY (June 9th), Williamsville, NY (June 10th), Hamburg, NY again (June 11th), Lockport, NY (June 14th), Hamburg, NY yet again (June 15th), Andover, NH (June 16th), Clinton, CT (June 17th), Orchard Park, NY (June 22nd), Depew, NY (early June 24th), Williamsville, NY again (later June 24th), Raymond, OH (June 30th), and Lakewood, OH (July 1st). Be sure to check Davey’s website to see if he’s playing near you at some time in the next 8 months, and check back regularly as he adds additional dates.

One thought on “Album Review: Davey O. – A Bright Horizon Line

  1. Pingback: Live Review: Davey O. house concert | Geoff Wilbur's Music Blog

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