David Zweig – All Now With Wings

David Zweig
All Now With Wings

It has always seemed somewhat strange that the legacy of Nick Drake has lived so long after his relatively short, obscure career. I mean, wasn’t he pretty much forgotten until that Volkswagen commercial chose to pair one of his songs with moon-bathed kids staring at each other with starry eyes? Still, every year there are more than a few artists who pay homage to his melancholy brand of introspective folk with their own breathy croons. Twisting this familiar formula and injecting it with sophisticated production techniques, David Zweig is carving out his own niche before the Drake altar.
Produced by Keith Cleversley (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev), Zweig’s debut is the closest approximation to a form of progressive folk that we’ve heard in recent years. While the promise of seven-minute folk-pop opuses may not be intuitively appealing for fans of concise pop songcraft, Zweig incorporates just enough twists and turns to make it work. Honestly, Zweig’s music is generally more upbeat and anthemic than most anything Drake recorded, incorporating some elements of world beat and featuring more than a few highly accessible tunes. Still, in his more subdued moments, Zweig’s voice calls to mind a similar pensiveness.
Where the Drake comparisons are more apparent are in the lush production, by way of the Chicago Symphony, the Navy Marching Band, and the occasional gospel choir. A perfect example, the opening transistor radio of “Anything & Everything” soon fades into open-ended drones, which then give way to finger-picked acoustic guitar, only to dissolve in crescendos of drums, horns and strings. Similarly, “Long Slow Burn,” which boasts 60 recorded tracks, moves through a number of progressions, while “Goodbye” mostly comes off as a more symphonic U2. Of course, this formula can become a little exhausting, as one person can only handle so many dramatic tempo changes and soulful exclamations. While these are certainly the elements that set Zweig apart from his contemporaries, he can hold his own as a vocalist and musician, as well, weaving intricate guitar patterns around his very versatile voice.
When not indulging his more meandering production pretensions, Zweig can craft a great melody, though he still has trouble keeping them from stretching over the five-minute mark. At times, tracks like “All the Same” and “Time Is Movin'” approach being a more earthy update of Cat Stevens’ light-hearted sound, repeating somewhat redundant lines, like “Didn’t you know now, it’s all the same” or “Yeah, it’s ok. Yeah, it’s alright” a few too many times.
Overall, Zweig does everything that you would want with his debut. He establishes himself as a unique talent with a unique sound, taking risks and succeeding far more often than not. In short, he’s the kind of talent whose name you’ll want to remember because you can be pretty sure he’ll always be doing something interesting. We probably won’t hear his music in a VW commercial any time soon, but David Zweig is much more than another Nick Drake-inspired songwriter.