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CD REVIEW: David Cartwright - Brittle
By
 
J.D. Stefan

 

 

 

**********

Artist: Davy Cartwright
Album: Brittle
Label: Independent Artist
Website: www.davycartwright.com
Genre: Acoustic/Folk
Technical Grade: 5/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 6/10
Commercial Value: 4/10
Overall Talent Level: 6/10
Songwriting Skills: 6/10
Performance Skill: 7/10
Best Songs: “Another Dream Gone”, “Brittle”
Weakness: Low dynamic energy, boxy-sounding recording on some tracks

 

CD REVIEW:  

Davy Cartwright is a singer-songwriter based in Llantwit Majory in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales.  His CD “Brittle” was released in 2008 and features Cartwright performing vocals, acoustic and electric guitar, bass and percussion.  Additional performers include Paul Duggan on slide and lead guitar, Peter Cronin on acoustic and electric guitar, Tony Cresci on harmonica, Lisa Matthews on harmony vocals and Sam Osborne playing electric guitar, piano, and percussion.  The CD info also introduces the Maes Bronos String Quartet with leader Olaf Rumpertroll.  The collection of 14 original songs was recorded and engineered by Sam Osborne. 

The album opens with “The Outsider”, a sparse, folksy song featuring Cartwright’s laid-back vocal style and clever lyrics.  The vibe is decidedly low-key and that feel continues through the second track in spite of its title “Party Time”.  Cartwright’s playing is quite good and his voice has a definitive original style.  His supporting players fill out the songs with enough motion and feel to keep things from being one-dimensional as some vocal/acoustic albums can become.  There’s some great slide playing on the album as well – the intro solo on “I Wanna Go Home” is classic, swampy blues.  It’s clear that Cartwright knows who he is as a writer and doesn’t try to overreach.  His lyrics can be intriguing with a nice tint of humor.  Standout tracks include “Brittle”, “The Grey Song” and “Another Dream Gone” which also features the string quartet.  The overall quality of the recordings maintains a nice clarity and each instrument can be heard clearly in context.  The recording of the string quartet is rather well done.  The simple CD cover doesn’t quite convey much about the album or artist and the rear cover actually might have worked better on the front.  That said, it seems to suit the overall understated vibe that Cartwright portrays with his songs and vocals. 

Brittle is a mixed bag for me.  It’s clearly acoustic folk with a hint of blues here and there.  The performances are quite good throughout and it’s clear that Cartwright has hooked up with a solid supporting cast for this release.  Commercially this isn’t going to explode in the mainstream but among an appreciative folk audience, Brittle should find a good home.  Although the recording quality is clear, I found there to be a number of inconsistencies from song to song.  There is a continuous reverb applied to the vocals and guitar in many tracks that makes them sound like they’re in a strange boxy room.  The vocals at times are breathy and dynamic enough that it’s difficult to understand the lyrics and this is not an album that you’d tend to be cranking up on the stereo.  I feel the instruments are recorded adequately but I’d have liked to hear a better recording of the acoustic guitar without so much of the reverb causing the sound to be somewhat thin and unfocused at times.  When the reverb or effects are taken away on a few tracks, the overall sound of the CD changes quite a bit and that’s what makes the inconsistency.  A little more dynamic range would have been nice as well – the songs flow very evenly without much change in energy making it flat-line.  Overall it’s a nice, laid-back vibe for a late night and I could easily see Cartwright happily performing in a quiet bistro with an appreciative audience. 

Overall, Brittle has a solid collection of songs and seems to represent what Davy Cartwright is all about.  There are some nice performances, memorable melodies and a definite relaxed vibe to the CD.  It’s a decent recording but suffers a bit from overdone reverb and I would have preferred to hear things come through in a more natural, upfront way.  Nevertheless, it’s great to hear something interesting from “across the pond” and Cartwright certainly has his own voice to set himself apart and make a place for himself in this genre.

J.D. Stefan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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