David Vandervelde The Moonstation House Band

[Secretly Canadian; 2007]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: Glam-rock, pop-rock
Others: T-Rex, David Bowie, Traveling Wilburys

A colleague (that I won’t name here) listed David Vandervelde as one of his most difficult interviewees, due to the artist’s general unresponsiveness and curtness. In Vandervelde’s defense, I guess he was sick at the time. For whatever reason, though, after listening to The Moonstation House Band, I’m not particularly surprised. This is a record that sounds dropped straight from Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie or Electric Warrior-era T-Rex or, uh, like some of those slow Scissor Sisters songs. It’s only natural that the man responsible for this kind of starry-eyed stuff would be part-Diva.

Moonstation is all lush, spacey torch songs (“Corduroy Blues”) and bouncy barn-burners (“Nothin’ No,” “Jacket”). Suffice it to say, Vandervelde won’t be accused of restraint in the studio. Three tracks here feature string flourishes by Beck’s dad, arranger-to-the-stars David Campbell. And although “Wisdom from a Tree,” a song that cribs the opening of ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” along with some of that song’s schizophrenic excess, feels overstuffed, Vandervelde’s songwriting is generally strong enough to punch through the multi-tracked vocals, echo-drenched percussion, and the zillion other things happening on every cut. However, something occurred to me while listening to the weepy strings and woodwinds drenching the aptly-named “Moonlight Instrumental”: One key to a great album is production that complements the songwriting. Moonstation’s success rate is better than 50/50, but I’d be curious to hear what these songs would sound like played by a single troubadour. Say... Seu Jorge, in Portuguese? That could be a cool movie.

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