Fine songwriting with folk and Celtic roots from London’s Dave Sutherland.
‘Last Drop of Empty’ is the fifth studio album from London-based singer-songwriter Dave Sutherland, after a long gap from his last album ‘On the Waiting List’ released in 2008. Recorded in locations including London, Los Angeles, Jersey and Sweden over a four year period, the album has an eclectic mix of styles, but with Celtic and folk leanings at its heart, and Sutherland’s gentle vocals to the fore.
His London roots are evident on several tracks on his latest release, with ‘From The Vauxhall Tavern To The Deptford Broadway’ lauding a characterful but not always loved quarter of south east London, with echoes of Chris Difford in his observational lyrics, as he sings “where we stood/ now stand houses/when they levelled all the land/on the half way hear a pin drop/on the Cold Blow, not one man stands” in homage to Millwall FC’s former ground, over a gentle shuffle beat with warm finger-picked guitar.
South east London is the setting again for ‘Ever Changing Skyline’, with cello from Isaiah Gage added to the mix, name-checking Bermondsey and “the ghosts from the warehouse and docks/the few and the many/still picking up a penny/from obliterated yellow London stocks”.
Storytelling is at the heart of Sutherlands’ all-original songs, with album opener ‘Ghosts’ telling “she was already a woman/by the time she was seventeen/all her dreams had fell out of her pockets/taken by the ghosts in the trees it seems” with a bluesy feel featuring harmonica from Ross Garren.
Album closer ‘Down to the Last Drop of Empty’, a barroom anthem, has a Tex Mex feel, with prominent accordion and harmony vocals, and accordion also features on ‘Yorkshire Grey’, putting the listener in the shoes of a bare-knuckle prizefighter.
‘Most of the Things That We Are’ features a duet with Moa Drugge, in waltz time, with a foot in both the country and Celtic camps, with the albums’ single release ‘Damaged’ also with a strong Celtic feel, a song of dealing with mental health issues, with its refrain “damaged, unravelled, undone”.
The album is produced by American producer Stacy Parrish, whose work with T Bone Burnett, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant on ‘Raising Sand ‘won him a number of Grammy awards, and Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna fame, who also plays bass on the album. Gunnar Frick is credited with piano.
A fine set of original songs, whose gentle charms grow with repeated listens.