The Solo Project of Benjamin Darvell, formerly of Crash Test Dummies, Son of Dave creates some of the most innovative yet familiar music I’ve ever encountered. Blending blues, hip hop, and touching on many other genres, Son of Dave’s o1, 02, and 03 are extremely modernized versions of the genres that music evolved from. But Son of Dave’s Wild West Show is a different beast all together, one that is almost impossible to connect to their other albums.
An unorthodox mash up of country, blues, and trance, Wild West Show proves that the greatest music is created when the confines of a genre are completely ripped away, letting the artist create whatever they like and testing the boundaries of their creativity.
The album opens with a short Intro which consists mainly of radio static with a few portions where an announcer can be heard speaking of the civil war. The Intro is very short and does very little to reveal the album’s overall theme, yet at the same time the brief 30 seconds of radio static somehow manages to set a mood that the entire CD maintains throughout, with the exception of a few offbeat songs.
Right out of the gates Wild West Show pulls out the big guns with “Only the Strong Survive,” which is quite possibly my favorite song on the entire album. Using a slow, Western-inspired guitar riff and a blazing drum beat as well as tons of layers, the song is able to create a very unique mood. Once you hear the cocking and firing of a gun play alongside what sounds like a group of Native Americans singing a war chant, it becomes evident that the song is about Cowboys and Indians.
Continuing the Western theme is “Give it Up Old Joe.” This track slows things down just a tad while still maintaining a nice amount of energy. “In Love with the Future” is completely different, and it might almost catch you off guard. At first the song appears completely unrelated from the the previous two, with its techno theme and electric robot vocals. Listen a little closer, however, and you’ll hear the Western style drum beat, which is the glue that keeps this song intact with the rest of the album.
“Bad As Can Be” slows things down to a groove. The country twang in the guitar accompanied by Benjamin’s wailing harmonica gives this song a very bluesy feel. Another one of my favorites is “You Makum’ Fun of Me” The Western-style guitar and chanting of Native Americans returns to take the album back to where it started. This tracks vocals consist of a conversation between two men, one white and the other likely Native American, on the topic of the law and how it applies to all men.
“Another Pretty Love Song” is exactly that. A beautiful guitar track beside a charming harmonica riff sound absolutely gorgeous. When Darvill starts singing in an awkward voice, reminiscent of a boy in love trying to win his girl, the whole thing just comes together and evolves into an even more beautiful song as it progresses.
“Back From the USA” is the most innovative track on the album. Blending the Western theme with some extremely funky bass and guitar work, this song creates an exquisite and one of a kind sound I’ve never heard before. The only thing keeping this track from being my favorite is the obnoxious way a group of children loudly proclaims “Hey, hey, get out of my way. I just back from the USA!” The track would’ve been much stronger without any vocals at all. Second to last is “Lie Down in a Canyon.” This song plays much more like moody background music than anything else.
The last track on the album, “Satan B. Gone,” is absolutely amazing and hilarious. Rooted in rock and roll, this song mercilessly criticizes the commercialization of religion in America. Listening to a hateful bigot talk throughout the entire song about how evil everything in modern life is would be amusing enough, but the whole thing reaches another level of awesome when a Southern Church Choir groovily chants the words “Satan Be Gone, Satan Be Gone!” This is one of the most amusing songs I’ve heard in a long time.
This album was actually originally released over ten years ago, but it was just in 2008 that Son of Dave’s label, Kartel, republished the work and made it a Son of Dave album. This fact is very hard to believe, because this is some of the most innovative music I’ve ever heard, especially by today’s standards.
If you’re tired of recycled, stale music, then you must check out Son of Dave. Not just Wild West Show, but all of his albums, especially 03. It isn’t music for everyone, as it just doesn’t click with some people. Do yourself a favor and give Son of Dave a chance. If you like, you’ll love it. If you don’t like it, nothing is lost.
- Highly innovative
- Interesting blend of genres
- Calls out of lot of America’s flaws
- Doesn’t appeal to everyone
Score: 9.0/10 (Outstanding)