The second full length alum by Vancouverian David Simard is a dark toned thing. Mordant meditations on love to a funereal accompaniment are the grist that fills David Simard’s mill. So much so that when he deviates from the template – as he does whilst rapping BP on the knuckles for their polluting ways in his native Canada on Good Clean Water – it’s something of a jarring shock that he can be so jovial. For the rest of the album he adopts a sombre and serious facade – with a deep baritone pouring the words out like a treacle river falling over a grit stone waterfall. There’s little room for anyone to doubt that David Simard is a Canadian artist – landmarks pepper his lyrics as on I’m Bad where he croons that “Montreal’s pretty / … / if I could choose a city / to call my home town, I’d choose you”, but here if he loves his homeland he readily admits to romantic failings “I was getting antsy / and you were getting sad / I considered doing fancy / footwork with my bag / there I go – being bad at loving you”.
David Simard has a great aptitude for phrasing – his words chosen with care and, more often than not, twisting with a second meaning. Yet as much as I wanted to fall for this brooding and literate album something held me back. Emotion, raw and sometimes painful, is laid out for display in what can be a clinical and detached way. There’s a paradox here – when David Simard wears his heart on his sleeve there’s still the sense that he’s got that arm behind his back, something is being held back. Am I saying he’s too clever for his own good ? Maybe. Maybe. The closer – Rorschach – seems in a way to analyse this lyrical reticence : “and lover I hope that you know / though the getting to know you has been so slow / I’m looking down the track / another sunrise at my back / And I sing another butterfly wing.” That’s the thing though about those ink drops – they aren’t all butterflies