Well Imagine That
David Wakeling is back. Just out is his latest CD, entitled Well Imagine That, a CD that features 10 songs from a variety of artists, reinterpreted by Wakeling, including such notables as Todd Rundgren, Jackson Browne, Tom Waits, Nik Kershaw and Kenny Rankin, to name just a few.
Based in Portland, OR, this MD, when he’s not busy saving lives and making people well, has a great sideline making music, a sort of therapy for the mind. He is quite the musician, playing all the instruments as well as singing. On this album, he gets a little help from Candace Schimp, who sings backup, “harmony”, vocals and plays piano on James Taylor’s “Only for Me” and playing the upright or “stand-up” bass on the Harburg, Arlen, Rose-penned “Paper Moon” is Brad Wager.
Wakeling, who, as I wrote in the review for his previous release, Clutch Hits, Best of… has been making music for some time now, having played in Against Medical Advice, who put out a self-titled album in 2009 and he was also briefly in This, Not This, whose output includes a self-titled album as well as 2013’s Waiting for the World. In between these projects he also did several solo projects, including three CDs in 2013: You Gotta Start Somewhere, Gravity and Altadena Avenue. Quite a busy year for him. He’s also recorded several CD singles, including “Not as Bad as it Seems”, “Takeaway” and “Hero of ’44”, three that appear on Clutch Hits, Best of…
The songs he covers on Well Imagine That are more than just “covers”, but more like reconstructed versions that carry his own imprint. For instance, on his version of “Downtown Train” written and originally done by one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Tom Waits, Wakeling does a great job of re-imaging the song and crafting something that is a bit more uptempo and comes off in a way that isn’t merely copying Waits’s original. Those familiar with Tom Waits’s style know what I’m talking about. Wakeling’s take on “Downtown” is a whole different piece, a different arrangement, which seems to be less plaintive; pining, with some verve to it; the way it begins is the first sense that David’s recreated this his own way: the intro and first verse are more upbeat and not as melancholy. For me, this version is far, far better than Rod Stewart’s 1989 version, which I never cared for; it’s just too saccharine. David has a much better feel for what to do with “Downtown Train” and he manages to keep it on the rails quite smoothly.
Moving on…Well Imagine That starts out with a song written by another favorite of mine: Todd Rundgren, doing his own incarnation of Todd’s “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference”. This is, as with “Downtown Train”, a song that Wakeling takes and makes his own. This new version is altogether different: it’s stripped down to its essence; gone are all the pop-music machines and in their place, David makes it quite pleasing with acoustic guitar and a hint of background vocal. The current version is a smooth, pleasing tune, played with an apt sensibility, not messing with its essential qualities.
There are many great new versions of songs on Well Imagine That which can each be deconstructed and in each, one will find something new and original which David brings to it. Another example of a wonderful new arrangement is Jackson Browne’s “Next Voice You Hear”; on this one, Wakeling seems to really get the feeling of the song pinned down while bringing his own essence to it. Then, there’s Lyle Lovett’s “Flyswatter/Icewater Blues”, a song with a crooning melody, combined with Lovett’s trademark witty lyrics. Another mention is the Nik Kershaw tune, “Already” which also showed up on Wakeling’s previous release, Clutch Hits – it’s a very good tune, in fact, “Already” is recorded in “full band” style, with a smooth-sounding electric guitar, bass, drums and piano. He really seems to like this song, which shows by how great this version is. “Paper Moon” is an acoustic, jazzy take on the old standard. The album closes out with Dave Grusin’s “It Might Be You”, another tune that takes an extant song and strips it down to its essence; by doing this, the fine points are even more evident.
The album as a whole is a great tribute to some great songwriters; songs that have been rearranged to have David Wakeling’s unique style; his strong voice, the razor sharp acoustic guitar as well as little extras here and there, like some piano, or a little background vocals. An album which shines as a way to reincarnate songs from the recent past and not make them mere covers, but altogether, new interpretations. For more information and for ordering options, visit http://www.wakelingmusic.com -KM.