Acclaimed singer and songwriter David Anderson translates unspoken emotions with ease through little more than a guitar, some hard-hitting lyrics and a collection of unvarnished hooks in his new LP Lake Placid Blue. In nine affective songs, he touches on love (“I Won’t Break Your Heart”), retrospection (“Trouble All My Life,” “Mystic Knights of the Folk-Rock Wars”), injustice (“Tulsa Riot”) and natural wonderment (the title track), all the while rejecting the very notion of artificiality in his studiously detailed compositions. His passion for the music speaks for itself here, and though his moniker might not be internationally well-known, his skillset is on par with the titans of his genre.

Anderson’s lyrical admissions are skewed by chilling melodies in songs like “Big Star” and “Charline Arthur,” both of which feature an underlying ominousness that makes their textured rhythms all the more spellbinding. In other cases, such as with “The Edge of Yes” or “The Belle of New Haven (Sarah Winchester Speaks from Beyond),” the music is haunting without ever exploring the colorful grooves that frame the melodies. Lake Placid Blue, from start to finish, is a record that engages its listeners on multiple levels – aural, emotional and physical – in a meaningful search for common ground via artistry.

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The master mix that this LP sports is truly as engrossing and mesmerizing as any of the content that it boasts, with more brooding tracks like “I Won’t Break Your Heart” and “Tulsa Riot” spilling out of the speakers with a vibrancy not dissimilar to what you would find in a live performance. I will note that this isn’t to say any of the magnificent tonality that the strings and their accompanying instrumentation bring to the table is anything short of robust and gripping. As a complete piece, the production quality is sublime and efficient, without a speck of creative substance having to be sacrificed along the way.

In general, the music that backs the lyrical magic that Anderson unleashes seamlessly here is as fascinatingly intricate and sophisticated as most any other element in the album. The title track wouldn’t have required its stoic verses to get across its message of complete and utter enchantment, just as “The Edge of Yes” has all of the ingredients to evolve into a much larger stage jam in a live setting. There’s so many ways to connect with this material that listeners are, to a certain degree, forced to relate to David Anderson’s earnest statements – through at least one channel or another.

Lake Placid Blue is an amazingly emotional and stirring LP that should be considered one of the most thoughtful releases of the young New Year. A big win for Anderson, this record doesn’t target one audience over another with its enormous melodies and jarring honesty. Frankly, this is easy listening music for anyone who enjoys a soft hook rendered from a string-bound serenade in the most classical sense of the term. A worthy release from a proven talent, I highly recommend this album for those who are looking for a surreal but focused soundtrack to start 2019 with.

Sebastian Cole