Eric Dahl - Whatever the Jungle
Been a while since I last formulated my theory that songwriting has, for better and worse, displaced poetry as a medium of expression, but a corollary to it is that good songwriters are not necessarily good musicians (by the same token, good musicians are rarely good songwriters, but that’s another story). When it comes to making albums, one common pitfall, which even people like Butch Hancock and Terry Allen have fallen into, is for singer-songwriters to defer to musicians, which can all too easily create competing agendas, with the words often losing out to the music. With Dahl, who came to Austin from the Pacific Northwest, and his lead guitarist John Hawk, who coproduced this album and cowrote a couple of the songs, you get a copybook lesson in emphatic striking of the balance. Dahl’s 14 songs range from pretty damn good to absolutely terrific, but the music doesn’t just do what backing is supposed to do, frame and complement those songs. It goes a step further. You could block out the words and it would still sound good, it’s musical aesthetic is so strong. This is perhaps most strikingly demonstrated by Throw Me In, on which Dahl’s words and his and Terry (female variety) Martin’s
Intertwined vocal harmonies fuel each other in a stunning symbiosis. This is delivery with a capital D.
Martin, who plays congas, and Hawk are the backbone of the album, recorded in Seattle, Valencia, and Austin, the latter tracks featuring
Ernie Durawa drums, Joel Guzman accoridan, and Mark Kazanoff sax.