David Gans | Twisted Love Songs | Review

Multi-faceted artist and long-time radio host of the "Grateful Dead Hour" releases his 5th disc to date through his own Perfectible Recordings label entitled Twisted Love Songs.  The collection is comprised almost entirely of recordings from his recent live performances around the West Coast and beyond.

Most of the album showcases his soft, comfortable folk songs containing politically charged lyrics and personal reflections.  Though his voice is not so ear-pleasing (sounds like a hybrid of Willie Nelson and Muppet creator Jim Henson) and his song structures are not all that complex, he does invoke a Woody Guthrie-like style of storytelling that takes the listener back to a time when music did not need to be so boisterous (exhibited in the opening track "Desert of Love").

Other notable songs include a dreary version of the Grateful Dead's "Ship of Fools", as well as a cover of the classic tune "King of the Road" in which he receives some much needed help from the boys of the jamgrass collective Railroad Earth.

However, the strongest tracks on this release contain instrumental pieces only.  Gans explores electric and acoustic looping mechanisms to create textured compositions that hold a lot more substance than his lyrical work.  This is evident in the psychedelic, wailing guitar riffs throughout "Prophet and Loss" as well as the dark, concluding track of "Quarter to Five". 

He even constructs a very interesting design in "Cassidy's Cat", where he meshes fragmented chords from the Dead classics "Cassidy", "China Cat Sunflower", and "Bird Song" to create a version that is almost his own.  He combines the best elements of these tunes and forms just a cool piece of art.

Fans of David Gans will be satisfied with this release, though I doubt any new listeners to his music will be too intrigued.  His body of work in journalism and broadcasting seem more substantial than his music, and surely Gans himself is probably okay with that.

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