David Duchovny - Hell or Highwater - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

David Duchovny - Hell or Highwater

by Justin Pearson Rating:6 Release Date:2015-05-16

As an actor David Duchovny needs no introduction; most of us have seen or heard of The X-Files and various movie roles he's filled. As a budding musician, however, his debut album Hell or Highwater has the honor of showing us his musical side. What it mainly proves is that he's not afraid to get his feet wet, even if he isn't quite ready to swim with the big sharks.

Having always written poetry and learned how to play guitar within the last few years, Duchovny has proven that even a lightly seasoned musician can still make a decent go of it in the current landscape of new artists and music. He doesn't seem to care how the album is received either way, according to a recent quote in a Roling Stone interview: "It's just been a real pleasure in my life, regardless of who buys it and what people think of it when it comes out."

Hell or Highwater is actually not too bad an album, even if you're a sceptic like I was before I heard it. It's made up of simple arrangements and honest lyrics backed by his folk/Americana vocal style. The album can be seen as a drawing board where he attempts to make his mark on the larger rock canvas that stretches across indie America.

Some songs work, and some border on forgettable. 'Let It Rain' is slightly predictable, but decent enough to be counted among any other straightforward folk-rock tune from the past or present. '3000' is a tad annoying and repetitive as he belts out the chorus: "3000 steps in the dark/ 3000 steps across the park/ 3000 steps might take some more/ 3000 steps to your door." You can sense his passion, but it kind of falls flat after the first refrain.

'The Things' has a Tom Petty vibe to its pacing and Duchovny's vocal delivery. His tone isn't completely flat, but it almost feels like he's talking to you rather than singing. It works here, though, as he's talking to a former lover about past wounds and the healing of time (or scarring, as in this case). His message is conflicted, but still worth voicing: "The things you said were not untrue/ The things you wore were okay to / The things you kept, the things you threw away/ The things you thought I never knew..."

'The Rain Song' shows Duchovny at his most poetic. He employs a Leonard Cohen-type angle to his analogies as he sings about how he's not a meterologist or astrologist and doesn't need a weatherman concerning his love life: "Baby, baby, as the heavens descend/ you and I will say amen/ This old cold front will move along/ Meet me back here where you belong/ It's always raining in this song." He doesn't reach the level of the dirge-master himself - no one could - but he gets just close enough to warrant a mention.

David Duchovny is no virtuoso. Who would expect him to be? But for a guy who recently learned to play guitar and decided to take a stab at singing and songwriting, Hell Or Highwater is at the very least still worthy of some kind of applause; maybe not rapturous, but surely welcoming.

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nice review, Justin!

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