Reviewed by Tony Cummings
Dave Clemo is one of British Christian music's most tried and trusted journeymen. Never possessing the most distinctive of voices, nor is his guitar playing up there with the Keaggys and Cockburns of this world, Dave (sometimes dubbed "the Kettering cowboy") has nevertheless played hundreds of gigs, both mainstream and ministry, and recognised a great truth that many musicians with greater talent haven't recognised - that ultimately fulfilment in art doesn't come from amassing a larger and larger crowd of admirers but connecting with the ones and twos who respond to the best you can do. Serving an audience, big or small, in concert or on CD/download is unlikely to win you a Grammy (one musician in every million will win one of them) but it does show that when a musician (or an artist/creator of any type) has put away the lust for success which drives so much of our arts and media world they can create some good stuff. That in a nutshell is what Cross Rhythms has striven to do and that is what Dave Clemo has done. Now, in the autumn of his years and battling serious health issues, Dave has decided to take many of the tracks he has recorded down the years and make them available on iTunes. This compilation, the first of four, is a mixed bag of course representing songs written and/or recorded over a number of years. The standouts are the opener "Liquidizer", a country-tinged pop rocker which might have been a hit if Dave had been from Kentucky not Kettering and been sung by the Bellamy Brothers rather than Mr Clemo. Also memorable is the one co-write on this set, "Let Me Lean On You", penned with American country journeyman Jerry Arhelger while on the other end of things "Trust In The Lord" is weak both in performance and song structure and it would have been better left off the compilation. But that and a little straining on the high notes of one song are the only snags here and although most of the tracks could have benefitted from being made in better studios and with top session musicians able to develop less stereotypical arrangements, the same can be said for just about every tiny budget independent album you'll hear. The truth is I'm glad Dave has taken the trouble to sift through his vast archive of recordings and bring them out via download and, I've just learned, a four-CD box set and for those who take the trouble to investigate Dave's musical history there is plenty to enjoy. And as I said, "Liquidizer" is a track any lover of country rock should hear.
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