This year Canadian born David Vaters released his first solo album “A Voice In The Wilderness Volume 1” on Feb 17. It’s an ambitious project showcasing a cast of a-league musicians which include: Tom Hemby on guitars and mandolin; John Hammond and Brian Fullen in the pocket; Jeff Cox on bass; David Vest and Johnathan Brown on keyboards; Charles Owens on harmonica; Susie Vaters and K.J. Raney on background vocals; and David Vaters on acoustic guitar and vocals. The album was produced by Dave Vest and David Vaters.
“A Voice In The Wilderness Volume 1” may be the best, most influential debut Americana album produced by any independent musician in the past decade, if not longer. We’ll see how David Vaters career pans out over the next couple of years, but if this album is any indication, we may be witnessing the uncovering of a musician for the ages.
Might not be far-fetched based on this collection. Vaters’ lyrics are an uncanny reflection of society’s Zeitgeist in the middle of the second decade of this century. His songs evokes all the uncertainty, despair and hope in what he calls “an imperfect world”, adding that “only by the grace of God can we make it in this imperfect world”.
David Vaters is a shining example of what has made Americana music so compelling and relevant. He has a close association with Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty, but don’t go thinking for one moment that his music is derived from any of these artists, he’s a man who stands his own ground, and owns every square foot of it.
His vocals and lyrics are placed front and center, with the guitar, keyboards and mandolin evoking themes of loneliness, and the tall tales of a fully grown man sitting on his front porch with crystal clear eye.
The first thing that strikes you about David Vaters when you press play on the opening track of the album, “Let It Rain”, is his voice. Vaters sounds like he has experienced it all, and whether that’s true or not is irrelevant. What matters is that his voice lends certified authenticity to his poignant storytelling.
The conscious repentance on “Running To You”, the guilty melancholy on “Ways From Sunday”, the personal conviction on “This Cross” and the ardent spirituality on “God Help Me Out”, all assume an evident and engaging credibility because Vaters doesn’t just sing it, he sounds like his lived it.
Throughout “A Voice In The Wilderness Volume 1”, Vaters’ lyrics document a restless search for truths, one that’s informed by embracing the past and choices made. This is an album of peaks and valleys.
As the perfect experience for the classic Americana fan, Vaters scrapes the grime off his soul and douses it with a Dylan-like poetry set to organic grooves and articulated with riffs that awaken the spirit of a freer time in music. He puts a personal stamp on the stories by bringing his own personal experiences into the equation making just about everything hard to ignore.
It’s hard to think of David Vaters as new, even though this is his debut album, because he sounds like he comes he comes from the prime generation of Americana performers. He’s proven on this recording that he is no upstart, and should today be considered a stalwart of the genre.
On my scorecard, David Vaters is in the clubhouse with a substantial lead. Although it’s still August, I’m not sure if anyone is going to catch him at the finish line for top honors in 2017. This album should be on everyone’s radar.