David Dondero - Simple Love

Louise Evans 12/09/2007

Rating: 4/5

Regardless of his choice of album title, David Dondero knows that love is rarely simple. All the drama, complexities and disappointments involved are wrapped up within the ten tracks on this follow up to 2005's South Of The South. Recorded in Austin Texas on tape with minimal overdubs, Dondero recruited various old friends and some of the best local musicians to help. The resulting record is a mix of genres such as country and blues which oozes an authentic southern American vibe.

Charting his lonely journey both across the country and through the turmoil of broken relationships, the songs on Simple Love are well-written, heartfelt tales. Located in the wilderness of Alaska, Dondero has had enough of there being “too many guys, not enough girls” and consequent bar fights over relationships. 'The Prince William Sound' starts slowly before building steadily to the chorus as he tells of waiting to escape an ex-girlfriend. Moving on to San Francisco in 'When The Heart Breaks Deep' the story changes to the more melancholic need to get over a betrayal and to let go. Underpinned by a steady onward marching drum beat, an electric guitar weaves its way around the vocals mirroring Dondero's meandering thoughts and progress. By 'Stuck On The Moon' he's moved on further, both to Oakland and to the point where he can look back with regret at the way the relationship ended and with the wish he could change things. The more chilled atmosphere to the track matches the reflective tone of the lyrics.

Elsewhere on Simple Love finds Dondero stronger and more in control. 'You Don't Love Anyone' tells of his lucky escape from the clutches of a shallow self-involved woman whose only interest lies in money. 'Rothko Chapel', one of the albums highlights, intertwines religion and love as Dondero finds sanctuary in Texas. Comparing the inspiration and comfort other people find in churches with his own, both from the non-denominational chapel and from life and love; Dondero adds to the more upbeat feel of the lyrics with happier, catchy music. Dondero mixes things up a little with a couple of tracks refusing to follow the usual course. 'Mighty Mississipp!' is more rocking and passionate; a combination of bluesy piano, thunderous drums and a telling of the strength and beauty of the landscape. 'Lone Rose' is a tribute to an altruistic woman known to Dondero whose questionable death he ponders over. The most traditional folk sounding song to feature on Simple Love is the almost childlike 'One Legged Man and The Three Legged Dog'. Consisting of gentle yet amusing observations of many animals around, it is completed by the strange and surreal image of the title characters.

Over ten songs David Dondero manages to cover a wide range of emotions and experiences in a manner which marks him down as one of the few extremely talented songwriters around. Simple Love is an absolute pleasure to listen to from start to finish.