CD/Concert Review

David Celia: I Tried

Photo: Gerald Lebrun

I’ve had the opportunity to hear David Celia’s new album I Tried in many different settings since its release a few weeks ago: in the van, amongst friends, with a book, and on speakers great and small. Never once have I tired of its varied styles and moods; never once did its music feel out of place.

Not trusting my own objective judgment (full disclosure: I know David Celia personally through my own music related exploits), I casually played his new album for many friends and gauged their opinion without imposing my own. The unwitting tastemakers were unambiguously positive.

Celia has made an honest record, no small feat in this era of hype and hoopla. You can feel his love for his children, his inherent playfulness and the fear that lies within his joy. The song craft is sophisticated in its diversity; the music and lyrics stand on a devout attention to detail. The performances are energetic and absolutely endearing.

The studio work, which is large in scope, incorporates horns, strings, and a bevy of subtle and not so subtle effects, including backwards guitars, eastern sounds and megaphoned vocals.  Overall the production enhances the songs without hiding the songwriting core. And, despite the different styles, there is a notable flow from track to track.

The first thing you notice at a Celia live show is that he’s not only a great songwriter but also, notably, an accomplished multi-instrumentalist. A strength of I Tried is that the instrumentation, despite its complexity, focuses on melody and mood, and doesn’t try to wow with unnecessary noodling.

I first heard these tunes live at the Hugh’s Room release. In many cases a great album fails to translate into the live setting, and likewise many a great live act produce lackluster studio work. David Celia is equally impressive in each setting; the songs are always central and his natural presence comes through in each.  It does not matter which context in which you discover this work, you will be equally surprised and impressed!

Best track to hear while dancing with your best lady or man at an outdoor festival:
Instant Puppy Love

Tripping out and reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead backwards:
Running out of Time

Drinking an Espresso at a Salon in Paris:

Watching a retrospective video montage of your childhood:
A Bugs Apocalypse

Trying to explain to an audience in Texas why you are singing a country song despite being born to a Croatian family in Mississauga, Canada:
I’m not Texan

My three favorite lyrics (out of context):

I tried
“it took a while for the sedative to kick in my heart
It took a whiley while, but now I’ll play my part
It took a while, but it sure gave me a kickstart
And now, I’m rolling home to you!

“wears a hat and has a mustache, in a Zappa kinda way”

I’m not Texan
“sittin’ and pickin’ while driving my car,
really shouldn’t be playin’ guitar“


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