If you were David Bronson and had poured a decade of your life into the release of an album ‘The Long Lost Story’ then a step back, and a good think on what you might like to do next, might be required. This time out Bronson wanted a more soulful approach and with the classic David Bowie album ‘Young Americans’ forming a musical inspiration hooked up with famed producer Godfrey Diamond (Lou Reed), a man with one hell of an address book, and the result is ‘Questions’ an album that embraces his 70’s singer-songwriter influences and takes them to a place inhabited by the soulful rock of Joe Cocker, Van Morrison and, of course, the aforementioned ‘Young Americans’.
Bronson is joined on the record by vocalist Robin Clark (Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Al Green, Bruce Springsteen, Beyoncé, David Bowie, Simple Minds) guitarist Carlos Alomar (David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Paul McCartney, John Lennon) and their daughter Lea-Lórien Alomar, guitarist Robbie "Seahag" Mangano, drummer Lautaro Burgos and top session vocalist Gordon Grody (Steely Dan, Talking Heads). With the quality of the players involved you would be forgiven for thinking Bronson had taken the session player route but this album feels and sounds like a bunch of friends getting together to make a record. The resulting album is blessed with a seamless vibe that is so positive that it is a joy to listen to. I find myself able to picture a group of like-minded people in a circle, with huge Cheshire cat grins, as they play songs and exchange musical war stories.
The album opener, and first single, ‘Songbird’ sets the scene with some quite stunning vocal harmonies the perfect accompaniment to a sweet lead vocal from Bronson. ‘Songbird’ is a fine aperitif to ‘Move Like Water’ which is simply glorious as a lone acoustic guitar underpins the vocal and allows a slow build that reaches a crescendo with a stunning backing vocal on the fade (I’d have loved for the track to continue a little longer but I’m greedy). These two tracks set the basic template for the album with their warm, languid construction perfected by the performances and a quite superb production that allows the instrumentation and voices to breathe. There are highlights aplenty on this fine record ‘Song Of Life’ has more terrific improv vocals that further showcases the talents of Robin Clark and a very nicely played guitar solo by Robbie Mangano. ‘Task’ ups the tempo with a funkier approach that allows Carlos Alomar to get into the act with an understated guitar solo, a trick he repeats on ‘Connect The Dots’ with considerably more room for some jazzy noodling. The album closes with ‘Passing Fiction’ which is eerily reminiscent of 70’s Pink Floyd and seems to form a perfect bridge from the soulful music on display here and the singer songwriters of the 70’s that have influenced David Bronson.
David Bronson has talent to spare and this is a very fine album. I can give it no higher praise than that I return to it often and I’m sure I will continue to do so.