Published Jan 09, 2015Oh David Bronson; where to place this record among the endless categorical sub-genres that make up modern music? Is it roots pop? Country fusion? Subway gospel with rural spice? Whatever it is, it is big and it is grown up. On his new album, Questions, David Bronson mulls over many of life's elusive queries and unanswerable dilemmas. He confronts the ceaselessly emerging issues of aging — specifically, the evolution of a person from a young adult to a grown-up with real world problems and the confrontation of past concerns that have become increasingly banal.
Now in his thirties, Bronson is growing up and so is the number of people in his band. Questions, while possessing a foundation that is firmly roots-based, evolves into a record that celebrates the power of soul music; the choir, climactic use of harmony and the poignancy of vocal instrumentation and solo scatting in lieu of guitar solos (although those do make an appearance). On the blues-y ballad "Song of Life," Bronson decorates the composition with his signature soft cadence, throwing a healthy amount of falsetto into the mix. The song satisfyingly culminates in a gently articulated Carlos Alomar (David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Paul McCartney) guitar solo that, on most songs on the record, would have been replaced by the accompanying choirs.
For better or for worse, certain elements reappear so often that they tread perilously close to complacency. "Move Like Water," "Day By Day," "Push" and "Task" — tracks two through five — begin in a similar manner and progress into gospel jams, and although they are tactfully layered explorations supported by a veteran band, they make up a significant portion of the first side of the album.
Bronson has crafted a record that is difficult to ignore. It is open and optimistic yet uncertain. In considering the questions ruminated upon in Questions, Bronson taps into the existential core of modern social values and expectations. His songwriting is far from boundary-pushing and somewhat inconsistent, but it is honest and he projects his self-established truths from a lofty sonic precipice for all to ponder. (Big Arc)