David Vassalotti - Guitar Dream - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

David Vassalotti - Guitar Dream

by Joseph Trotman Rating:8 Release Date:2025-01-19
David Vassalotti - Guitar Dream
David Vassalotti - Guitar Dream

For the past decade or so, David Vassalotti has found acclaim for his guitar work in Florida-born post-punk outfit Merchandise. "Guitar Dream", his second effort as a solo artist, proves that in this time he has accumulated a wealth of experience, not just as a player, but as a masterful songwriter in his own right. The album bristles with ideas, tied together by a close, hushed sense of atmosphere and Vassalotti's quavering baritone voice, one not dissimilar from his Merchandise bandmate Carson Cox (who serves as producer, engineer and occasional auxiliary player here). Cox, for his part, has demonstrably come into his own as a producer. Each song's arrangement, from the horns of opener "This Extravagant Lie" to the stuttering synths that form the bed of the absorbing seven-minute closing track "What Shall You Say Tonight?" is perfectly timbered.

While Vassalotti's songs are well-adorned instrumentally, his record is as guitar-centric as its title suggests. There are moments where he sounds self-conscious of what might be considered the instrument's fading relevance, but his assured and inventive playing assuages any doubts as to its lasting efficacy, at least in his hands. As the early album highlight "In The Garden" shows, the man certainly knows his way around a chord change, and the sublime, doomy synthscape that eventually subsumes road-burning centrepiece "Let It Burn" shows he is not aggressively traditionalist. Rather, his bashful but resolute adherence to the six-string imbues the album with a sense of history, as if to pay respect to and locate itself within the lineage of great songwriters that came before. It complements a sense of nostalgia that's conceptually right in line with the album's lovelorn, often yearning lyrics and it's often melancholic smoky-hued sound. 

"Guitar Dream" is a moody, sultry album with a romantic tinge that stops just short of being cloying. Its occasional moments of affectation are earned by the studious commitment to songcraft and its knowing sense of pageantry. It has a poise to it that recalls Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen, artists who also knew the benefit of the odd bit of melodrama and whose song's characters, like Vassalotti's tended towards the ill-fated or myopic. It feels nocturnal and quietly rebellious, and could only have come from somebody with inherent confidence wrought from experience and a clear dedication to their craft.

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