In a varied and widespread career David James Robertson has played in Swansea-based band Sopha and Midlands band Riley, as well as various solo work. This debut solo album, which has been two decades in the making, is a labour of love that takes the listener on a journey through different genres and sounds. The ten self-penned, deeply personal songs are all well played with beautifully sung lyrics.
David says he finds the melody always comes first when writing his songs. He keeps the melody running round his head till he can get to a guitar. Then when he gets a hook line he builds the song from there. He not only sings and plays guitar on the album but also a mean harmonica on tracks such as My Better Side.
Mr Robertson has a great number of friends who help out to good effect on the album. Among the list is Scott Poley (The Grande) who played lap steel on In My Dreams, plus Dobro and Mandolin. Bass is provided by Andy Collins from Whispering Bob Harris’s favourite band The Story. The first track Alone has a very country feel to it with jaunty guitar and brightly sung lyrics. This is followed by the title track Forgiven which has a different feel and sets the standard for the album. From track to track David not only shows his ability to play and write in different styles but does this to a standard you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. David says his biggest inspiration was the Woodstock film. He likes the Beatles, Dylan, Neil Young, Jaywalkers and Ryan Adams among others. But Crosby Stills & Nash doing Sweet Judy Blue Eyes at Woodstock changed his life.
On the third track Shining you get to hear the keyboard with Dee Martin on Hammond and pianos, and also Mike Cave with a bit of Mellotron piano and backing vocals. With the track In My Dreams you get to hear the lap steel with David’s vocals perfectly conveying the lyrics. My Better Side has a percussion part effectively provided by Sam Martin (who plays with Wolverhampton songsmith Scott Mathews) and is supported by David’s clear harmonica. This is one of my favourite tracks but there are so many good (nay, great) tracks on this album. Another is Love Don’t String Me On. Sam Martins drumming drives this excellent track, with mandolin and I think dobro and slide giving accompaniment and topped of with more harmonica. You will find yourself singing along with this song as I did round Asda (other supermarkets are available for impromptu singing). David’s vocal range is extensive and clarity of the singing on the album is so good a lyrics sheet was hardly needed.
The album was produced by Big House Productions in the form of Jay Whittaker who was a huge driving force. Recording took place in a number of locations including The Motor Museum, Lark Lane (Al Groves), The Rhondda St Studios (Huw Rees, Swansea) and in David’s own house with Big House Productions (Jay Whittaker). But the various locations are not apparent, the quality of the music and the mastering and tying up of loose ends was Mike Cave from Loftmastering (Wood Street).
To close I must say this is the best album I have heard this year. Give your ears a treat you know they deserve it. Check out his face book page to hear for yourself. The album can be purchased from I tunes and Amazon. Also from www.robertsongs.co.uk