Singer/songwriter David Arn doesn’t ask much of his listeners in the new 14-track album Traveler Tales. Other than the time invested to listen to such a wildly enjoyable collection of songs, Arn remarkably makes it look and sound so easy. His fascinating depictions of every day living, of lost love, parenting and more are interpreted in a way that I can’t recall. In the way Cat Stevens spins words like alchemy, and the way Jonathan Swift gave us Gulliver’s Travels, Arn combines the work of song craftmanship with utter imagination. By the end of the experience, Traveler Tales will have you asking, where has Arn been? And why haven’t I heard more from him.
The answer to that, is he’s been releasing music for some time. Though Traveler Tales is Arn’s third album, he does have several singles under his belt that have been featured on numerous NPR stations, BBC radio and can even be heard on Delta Airlines commercial flights. Arn’s previous albums are Walking to Dreamland (2015) and Postmodern Days (2011). Based in Virginia, Arn will excite fans of the singer/songwriter genre, but I think fans of rockabilly, pop rock will be intrigued. These songs are brimming with lush sounds. Arn’s work can take you from an intimate moment, to feeling like you’re celebrating with your community and then back to a party of one. His voice, a presence that is an instrument in its own way, can go from sounding like the aforementioned Cat Stevens to a Lou Reed to Tom Waits. Arn is a singer/songwriter that might have a few years ahead of others, and that’s what gives him the advantage.
With 14 songs to choose from, the listener should have no problems coming up with a favorite or two. I’d like to point out the songs “Fallen Bird: The Beggar’s Tale”, “Black Dog: The Photographer’s Tale”, “Silently Drifting to Paradise: The Sinner’s Tale” and “Love Is Free: The Writer’s Tale”. Each are quite different, but at their core are the lyrics of one of indie music’s most talented writers. “Fallen Bird”, a gripping guitar embellishes Arn’s baritone voice. He’s backed by two vocalists, their fused voices bolstering his presence even more so.
In “Black Dog” the contemplative images of depression and capturing still shots of fleeting memories. Arn paints the music’s base with country hues blended with a guitar. He captures a feeling of aging, and fondness. When you listen to a song like “Black Dog” you feel the melancholy, but in Arn’s voice you always hear hope. Always.
“Silently Drifting to Paradise” features female vocalist Ava Hart. She can also be heard on “Mother’s Day – The Mother’s Tale”. While many might claim their favorite to be “Mother’s Day”, I personally felt Hart showed more vocal range and talents in “Silently Drifting”. Both are excellent songs, but “Silently” possesses much more harmonies and a spellbinding guitar. “Love Is Free”, has Arn unraveling some more of his 60s influences, a combination of The Byrds and maybe even a slight (very!) Jefferson Starship. Traveler Tales is an excellent album, and David Arn is an incredibly-gifted talent.