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The Transient

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Album Review

The longer an artist sticks around the music business, the greater the odds that he will eventually get around to recording a road album. The Transient is David Dondero's, and the well-traveled singer/songwriter certainly has worn out enough soles to both merit and sustain a number of them. Like his previous effort, Shooting at the Sun With a Water Gun, this loose song cycle is very much in the mode of Dondero's primary hero, the legendary country-folk troubadour Townes Van Zandt, which is no surprise considering how many attributes the two share. Dondero, too, who originally came from fly-over country, has spent years crisscrossing America in a beat-up pickup with his guitar, has collected more plaudits than paychecks, and writes tunes so lonely and hopelessly soulful — even when he's rocking out — that you can practically feel the stubble and taste the whiskey. But, oh, how sublime he makes it all sound, and strangely redemptive, too. The electric cowboy blues of "Ashes on the Highway," part stomp-box dirge, part pent-up release, is one of the greatest things he has ever recorded, and how often can you say that about a song that leaves instructions on dispensing one's cremated remains? There is, if you stretch the definition of the genre, a lot of blues on the album: blues about living and dying, blues about coming to the end of the line ("Less Than the Air," "Vaporize") and about beginning all over again ("Going Back to Wilmington"), blues about always being nowhere (the resplendent, stunningly produced "The Stars Are My Chandelier" and the title track). And it all sounds so magically burned out. The album could, retrospectively, mark the breakout point for its artist — he was supported throughout the recording by avowed fan Conor Oberst and other players from the celebrated Nebraska collective Bright Eyes, and Lullaby for the Working Class member Mike Mogis, an acquaintance back during Dondero's Sunbrain days, produced — but even if it doesn't, The Transient is a stretch of highway worth traveling and retraveling.

Customer Reviews

The Transient

This was the first album I bought by David, I've only recently come to know his music. It definitely isn't for everyone. If you don't like Folk or Blues, you most likely won't enjoy it. I personally have a great appreciation for this album and enjoy it very much. David is an absolute poet, with lines such as, "just like the stars are my chandelier, just like these landscapes are my living room, just like these highways are veins, I am the blood, I am the rain." I can't help but get lost in his songs. There is a shamelessness to the whole album that makes a listener feel okay about being human.


This is one of those albulms that once you discover it you are hooked. Dondero releases his feelings of being on the road for years, trying to make it as an artist and that is what gives it such a personal, heart felt taste. Some may compare him to an artist like Langhorn Slim but Dondero is unique in his own right. This is a must listen!

Very nice.

I like this guy's style. I hear a lot of Conor Oberst in his voice, but the music also evokes some Tweedy/Wilco...all together, he has his own sound, and it is a satisfying one at that.


Born: June 24, 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...
Full Bio
The Transient, David Dondero
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Customer Ratings


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