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Simple Love

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Album Review

On his second Team Love outing, David Dondero's affiliation with Conor Oberst comes across more clearly — the Bright Eyes brand of cool seeps straight through the music and into the quavering vocals. But big differences separate these two top-tier songwriters, and part of the fun of paying close attention to the tongue-in-cheek-titled Simple Love is figuring out how far apart they really are. Dondero, for one thing, has always been a wayfaring storyteller; here, true to form, he weaves narratives out of threads from American vistas that stifle him (Oakland, CA, in "Stuck on the Moon") or inspire him (the Mississippi River in "Mighty Mississip!"). But that's an easy distinction to make. Where Dondero and Oberst are most alike is in their capacity for evoking a sense of well-founded unease, despair, and heavy-heartedness. Songs like "Rothko Chapel" and "When the Heart Breaks Deep" are streaked by them; they're as fogged by disillusion as sadness, and the same mood runs through some of the songs on Oberst's Cassadaga, also released in 2007. What makes these songs unmistakably Dondero's, though, is their gravity. When Dondero sings, hope has less wiggle room, uncertainty has less air to float in. Because of it, Simple Love sounds rooted in something deep. Older, world-wearier fans of Bright Eyes will love it, and so will Dondero devotees.

Biography

Born: 24 June 1969 in Duluth, MN

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Singer/songwriter David Dondero's musical career began in 1993, when he released the first of three records as a member of the alt-rock band Sunbrain. But since he split the band and headed out on his own, his music has been more comparable to such American folk music/troubadour greats as Woody Guthrie and Townes Van Zandt. The year 2001 saw the release of his solo effort Shooting at the Sun With a Water Gun, an album in which Dondero assumes the role of different characters for nearly each song...
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Simple Love, David Dondero
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