Glimmer finds Dave Foster on the solo path again with a classy assortment.
Release Date: 21st April 2023
Label: English Electric Recordings
Format: CD / digital / LP
Such is the tangled web of connections that finds Dave Foster at the centre. It’s been quite a journey with several encounters in following his career. His band (at the time) Mr So & So supported Marillion on the This Strange engine tour back in ’97. At one point they morphed into (and back again from?) Sleeping Giant and I’m sure I’ll have seen them in Rotherham at the Classic Rock Society at some point. The final – excellent – Mr So & So album Truth, Lies & Half Lies was the parting shot just about ten years ago (I went to the album playback at Jamm Studios) since when The Dave (as he is known) has been the go-to man for the Steve Rothery Band, Big Big Train and Panic Room while fostering (sorry…) his own solo career. Oh, I sat next to him in the free seats at the Steven Wilson gig at Bridgewater Hall too a few years back… Enough of my yakking though.
No stranger to solo work, the pandemic scuppered any chances of touring work to show off the Nocebo album from 2020 but with plenty of work coming in various forms, he’s finally able to resume the solo path and showcase some of Nocbo (plus a premiere of Dive In) at the Marillion weekend a few weeks back.
In much the same way that The Dave is at the right hand of God – ie, Marillion’s Steve Rothery’s solo band – he has his own wingperson, Dinet Poortman, at his own right hand. Serial collaborators, they once again bring out the best in one another. Dinet’s lyrical and vocal contributions revolve around personal circumstances and the realisation that life and relationships deserved to be cherished. Her own outpourings being a musical therapy. The pair also have a genuine musical chemistry and empathy that’s more evidence that The Dave is one of those musicians you want to have in your band. First name on the team sheet in ‘fantasy rock band’ pub discussions.
Every Waking Moment is a simply stunning curtain raiser. The slow build intensity and the disconnected vocal is cut of the same cloth as the recent eMolecule (Simon Collins/Kelly Nordtrom) album. High on drama, Dave delivers a solo that’s about feel and emotion rather than shredding, and a coda where each instrument becomes increasingly excited to bring about a most satisfying finale. Got to admit to it being such a stirring intro, that the temptation to have it on loop couldn’t be resisted. Hopeful that it indicates what’s to follow, it doesn’t – but not in a bad way.
The variety that’s to follow contrast is evident immediately in Run where a hit of brass would see the track morph into a Dexy’s classic. Not just class musicianship on offer but also classy songwriting that continues with a brooding and funky vibe on Stigma that combines heavy riffs, a dreamy late-night vocal and the question “is that Stewart Copeland on drums?” judging by the rim shots. The excitement of the finale and the “how we feel, how we run, how we live…” repetition mirrors that of the opening number.
“I’m chasing an echo,” Dinet croons in a haze of easy melancholy as Dave adds a subtle low-key solo, before we get an indication of the pop sensibilities with the bright and breezy – yes, ‘poppy’ – Memory Box. Boxes are being ticked in a game of music genre bingo. Not often do you get variety delivered with such competence. Any thought of being a jack of all trades is jettisoned in favour of the display of mastery of several. The Rules Have Changed sees the stop-start funk chops crossing swords with clean Rock riffing and what could only be described as a languid Floyd passage (check out the slide guitar moment just after “am I the wrong side of the tracks” – almost expecting to hear Clare Torry coming in…before being given wings to fly by a string arrangement in the finale. A strong finish. Not quite as strong as the start as I find myself heading back (again) to Every Waking Moment, but the latter is going to earn the accolade of ‘track of the year’ (so far).
A little like Steven Wilson, underrated and under the radar in the mainstream – he might be more Dave who? than THE Dave, but very highly regarded in his own field. Glimmer shows why.
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