Album #259 – American Gothic

Album #259

This album sounded much better and very different than I initially expected. I somehow though this was going to be an experimental album in the vein of Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. Instead, what I got was an album from an amazing singer-songwriter. This was supposed to be David Ackles’ breakthrough album. Instead, it hardly sold any copies at all but it became and remains a cult classic. Ackles’ music has influenced many including Elvis Costello. The album was produced by Bernie Taupin (yes, THAT Bernie Taupin) which was a surprise to me. I liked this album because the songs are written in a unique way and the arrangements are so peaceful and pristine. The strings in particular add to the feel of this album. The other classical instruments add an element that most artists were not using in 1972. Many say Ackles borrowed from Jacques Brel as much as he did from Bob Dylan. I agree, but I also think that Ackles borrowed some sounds and songwriting styles from John Cale and more specifically, Scott Walker. Ackles sound like a cross between Stephen Stills, Scott Walker and John Cale. I had heard one song off this album before I listened to it: Montana Song. It is the album’s longest track and it caps off this amazing album. The track is almost like a Magnum Opus. The rest of the album switches from the lush string arrangements to Broadway-influenced Modern Show tunes, to acoustic blues and a jazzy number about California and back again. That makes this album a delight to listen to. Taupin’s production suits the songs and because Taupin is a lyricist and not a producer, it made this album sound much better than if a Pro was producing it. Maybe that is why this album was not an immediate success. American Gothic is a must listen for fans of the Singer-Songwriter movement of the early 1970’s. Ackles adds his own unique sound, voice and songs to this movement and it’s a shame the masses did not notice this at the time. Highlights include: Love’s Enough, One Night Stand, Oh, California!, Waiting For The Moving Van (a song that is very appropriate in my life right now) and Blues for Billy Whitecloud. Overall, I give this album 4 out of 5.

Next: The Eagles’ self-titled debut album!!!

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