For Canadian country-roots singer/songwriter Dave Reader, song writing has been a lifelong passion. The native Albertan, who currently lives north of Rocky Mountain House, has always had a deep desire to express himself through music. Now with the release of his second full length album, Dave has shown that he is an adept songsmith and also capable of delivering an authentic, heartfelt performance. For anyone needing a break from the mindless, cookie cutter drivel coming from most stereo speakers today; this would be a good place to start.
Born in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta and raised in various hick towns throughout the province, Dave Reader comes by his blue collar, redneck roots honestly. Those roots show through in the songs that he writes; songs about homesteads, Harleys, tractors, freight trains, farming and the oil patch. Songs about fathers and sons, regret and heartbreak, love and loss. Songs with just enough hope sprinkled in to see your way clear to the next sunrise.
Rednecks Railroads And Rust was produced by multi-instrumentalist/engineer Ben Crane at Jinglebob Music Studio. The pairing proved to be a perfect fit. Alongside his own expert playing, Ben was able to wrangle up some of the best studio musicians in the industry, to add their personal touch to the tracks. The end result is an impressive 12 song collection of country-roots music, tinged with a wide range of influences, from blues to bluegrass, to early rock 'n roll.
The opening track, When I Grow Up, is a rollicking rock 'n roll song with a decidedly fifties, doo-wop feel, but beneath the up-tempo surface, the song delves into an examination of childhood dreams versus reality. Talkin' Fort Mac Blues takes an unapologetic look at life in the oil sands city, both good and bad. Featured on this track is former Merle Haggard guitarist, Redd Volkaert, who gives the song a wonderful 'Working Man Blues' feel. Slowing things down, If Not For You is a desperately sad, yet hopeful, gospel flavoured song. From the first wistful guitar notes to the stunning four part harmonies, this song has classic written all over it. The poignant, Fishin' With My Old Man tells of a boys relationship with his father over the years, and his regret over not having spent the time with him that he could have, while he still had the chance.
Probably the most melancholy song on the record is the touching, Don't Wanna Work The Farm. Carrying on with the father-son theme, this is the heart rending story of an only son caught between his father's wish for him to take over the family farm and his own desire to move to the big city to pursue his dream of becoming a musician. Bruce Hoffman's steel guitar on this track could pull tears out of a stone and Ben Crane's arrangement is breathtaking. Closing out the record is the long but well worth it, The Ghost Of Johnny Cash. A fantastic tribute to the man in black, the seven minute, spoken word number, recounts the tale of a man, recently released from prison, who encounters a vision of Cash in the desert. The twin Spanish trumpets played by Nashville's Steve Patrick add a distinctly southwestern feel to the tune and morph perfectly with Bruce's haunting steel guitar. Dave's baritone vocals do a stellar job of conjuring up the man himself. For any Johnny Cash fan, this song is a must have.
In this day and age, a more authentic, honest record would be hard to come by. From Dave Reader's raw, yet emotive, no frills singing style, to his straight from the heart, hit you in the gut, songwriting; to Ben Crane's masterful arrangements and bleed every note, instrumentation, these songs hit the mark. He's been a long time coming but Dave Reader is back, and by all indications he'll be here for a long time to come.