David Pavia Songs for Soft Machines

[Self-Released; 2007]

Others: The Black Crowes, Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen

David Pavia is a young psychotherapist nursing a moonlight obsession with rawk. His closest brethren in sound might be early Black Crowes -- white-boy electric blues with sassilicious vocal treatment -- but there’s a significant difference between him and those pasty hipshakers. The missing ingredient is the lack of distance and calculation between Pavia and his style. I’m no Crowes apologist, but the band (and their label) positioned themselves in moments of opportunity. Initially, they were Rolling Stones, Jr. for the hair metal generation, offering something a bit rootsier than C.C. DeVille’s hair while keeping the flair for overwrought lyrics. Later, when grunge made their incursion seem Romper Roomesque, they became the harder-edged blues saviors for the jam band scene -- a role they sort of tiredly trudged through until their demise.

I go through all this to set the stage for understanding why Pavia, despite what seems an honest effort, sadly falls flat. He’s obviously a fan of blues rock, both its gustiness and its emotional nakedness. His songs reflect this. The problem comes in imagining who might listen to it. Let’s go through some candidates:

- Crowes fans: An obvious choice, but ultimately, their fanbase needs more pothead references. Either that or a kind veggie burrito recipe on the back cover.

- Indie rockers: Ummm, well...they wouldn’t touch this with their dad’s 10-foot pole. If it’s gonna rock, the lyrics need to be much more literate, the rhythms more angular, the guitar sound less routine, etc.

- Stones fans: Probably the most likely group, but the boomers are hard to win over with new artists, especially if the ‘real’ deal is of their own generation.

- Electric blues fans: Another possibility, but these folks tend to have more of an interest in technical mastery than Pavia’s skills can satisfy. Plus, his softer, sunnier moments are just too soft and sunny for someone with a love for the melancholy blues.

While I applaud Pavia for making his music the way he wants, I can’t say with any sincerity that it makes for compelling listening. It sounds like bits of what’s come before, without much potential to break through to those who enjoy his influences. This is music that can be made and released comfortably by a man who has a solid income from another career.

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