Personal song memoir has its moments
Reviewed April 2009
By Darryl Holter
213 Music: 2009
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Darryl Holter is an interesting character. A few minutes on the web checking out the singer/songwriter shows that not only was this guy a youthful admirer of singing cowboys, Elvis and Dylan, but he was a penniless Paris visitor, a history professor, and more recently the operator of several of downtown LA's biggest car dealerships and a union organizer who recorded protest songs and sang with Pete Seeger.
This is a guy who has been around.
"Darryl Holter" is collection of the songs he has been writing all along, which sound like a sort of personal sound memoir. The style is a mixture of country and pop, with plenty of guitars, pedal steel and keyboards.
The two opening cuts, "Living on the Edge" and the rocking "I Should Have Seen It Coming," lay down the populist politics and observational tone of his lyrics, and make clear that Holter is not a strong singer. His limited range is offset to a degree by the capable backing band and arrangements, but some harmonies or backup singers would have helped beef up the thin spots.
"I Know You" is a solid country rocker, and despite clumsy lyrics Holter sounds more in his element here than on the slower tunes. "Cardboard Lover" is a tedious four minutes of romantic balladry, as is "Blue Grey." Holter is trying hard, but doesn't have the pipes for this type of thing. When he gets his boogie on, like in "End of the Story" and especially "Don't Touch My Chevy," Holter shows that he can growl a bit, and being smooth and on key isn't crucial. The latter tune, which contains a plug for his Giant Felix auto dealership, is downright nasty and catchy, the disc highlight.
The best ballad, "Time and Space," is a collection of metaphors wistfully recalled over soaring steel guitar cries. The closer is "Blues in Your Pocket," with Holter, acoustic guitar and harp, and uses a folk-blues approach well, making one wonder if one or two of the earlier ballads would have worked better that way.
This is a disc that shows Holter's passion for the music. He has clearly been around, knows folk and country forms, and has been writing this music for decades with the idea of someday putting out this disc. While the results are mixed, there are plenty of enjoyable moments to be heard.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.