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A Pre-Existing Condition

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iTunes Review

This is as acoustic as it gets — a supersession among the alt-country / indie-rock scenes: David Dondero on acoustic guitar, Rob Keller of Six String Drag on upright bass, William Tonks of Bloodkin on dobro and guitar and Russ Hallauer of Sunbrain (Dondero’s original band) on mandolin and tenor banjo. The songs range from Dondero originals to top-shelf covers that easily bend to Dondero’s will. Neil Young’s “Don’t Cry No Tears” is stripped down to a desperate ballad. Charley Pride’s “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’” is similarly played as more a dirge than a celebration. Bob Dylan’s “Let Me Die In My Footsteps” has an impressive backing choir for the chorus while Dondero’s most fragile and careful delivery on the verses underlines the song’s true horrors. Even Jawbreaker’s “Boxcar” gets an acoustic workout.  Jimmie Rodgers, Woody Guthrie, Doug Sahm, the list is solid. And Dondero’s own “Not Everybody Loves Your Doggie Like You Do” is a chuckle worthy of Bonnie Prince Billy.

Customer Reviews

David Dondero: An American Poet

I'll have to respectfully disagree with the review written by Joseph Quillian previously. Although everyone's taste in music varies greatly, I am confused regarding the remarks about the addition of synth melodies and lyrics with hooks to make an artist and his music viable in the mainstream.

In my honest opinion this has been the downfall of the corporate record label and radio. Everyone who has been deemed as "mainstream" has had a shelf life of approximately 10 years at the most. That's why artists such as David Dondero are enduring. I'll take this artist any day over a mainstream artist.

Dondero's sound is unique and in no way sounds like any other artist in the genre. In fact, a 14-year-old Conor Oberst was influenced greatly by Dondero and, if anything, sounds like him. I can't think of too many artists who can take a handful of covers and make them unique and craft them to his own style. This is "Pre-Existing Condition".

The mournful sounds of "Kiss and Angel Good Morning" and "Don't Cry No Tears" takes the listener into the very soul and essence of Dondero, exposing his inner demons and feel for the lament of a man done wrong. This singer/songwriter is a modern day hobo who travels a black ribbon asphalt rail in a modern day freight car. Every song on every album carries Dondero's heart on his sleeve, giving the listener a peek into the innermost darkness of human emotion while keeping them reaching for the light.

Give me the virtually unknown artist who hands you his or her heart and soul on a silver platter while playing for 2 people (including the bartender) in a dingy back alley bar. If this is the antithesis to mainstream music then I would be happy to make the sacrifice. Music is about emotion and devotion to the craft. If an artist is out for them fame and media attention while having 4 engineers press a button in a sound both, then we are all headed for the dark abyss of monotony. That, to me, is everyone sounding the same with Autotune.

Acoustic instruments, synth music or keyboard compositions really don't matter. As long as the person is true to his craft, tells a story and grabs even 1 listener, then they have done their job and done it well.
Are David Dondero's lyrics silly? I don't think so, but it's a matter of perspective. What one person may put off as silly may in fact touch another person's life in a way that it may save their life. That's when an artist can say, "You get it." There is a reason why NPR has named David Dondero "One of the Top 100 Living Songwriters". He has evidently touch someone and quite possibly several people.

Well, Mr. Dondero, "I get it." and as long as you keep giving us your simple songs and stories, we'll keep listening to what you have to say.

Another gem from dondero

This album is simply amazing. I'll agree with the last review and strongly disagree with the first review. This album is mostly covers and 4 originals (not everybody loves your doggie like you do, please hand me over to the undertaker, song for buck Owens, and pre-existing condition) dondero reworks songs by artists such as Little Feat, Bob Dylan, Jawbreaker, Jimmie Rodgers and more. Every song on this album Is as great or better (In my opinion) than the original. And HIS originals on this album are outstanding. Dondero gave me this album at a show in baton rouge last year and I've been playing it heavily ever since. As always I'll say if you have the chance to get it from him, do that, support him and his great music more.

And also, saying dondero needs a synth to make him sound better is borderline blasphemy. His voice, lyrics, and delivery are a huge part of his appeal. Maybe you don't realize that there have been many artist to rip him and make gross amounts of money while he's left to constantly tour and sleep in his truck. I have no doubt that this man will go down as an American legend someday

this is just silly.

some of these songwriters need to get a hold of a synthesizer SO THAT THEY DON'T ALL SOUND THE SAME! This is the only genre with true promise, yet it will remain obsolete until these artists figure out a way to make the music mainstream and keep the great lyrics. THIS album however has neither. The lyrics are just silly. No promise here.


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
A Pre-Existing Condition, David Dondero
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