The theatrical components of Davie Simmons’ “Angel Music Lover” are apparent from the first. It isn’t any surprise considering the song is included as one of the centerpieces for his musical screenplay Finding David, but it is wonderful to encounter a songwriting sensibility so keen, in concert with collaborators Andy Camp and Esa Lehti, to provoke our emotions and imaginations alike. The trio, once members of a late sixties band that didn’t prove to have staying power, have celebrated their belated reunion in the best possible way – making mature and thoughtful music that has durability, depth, and genuine melodic excellence running through every second.
There is a lush, dream-like quality to the song that never turns vague or opaque. The declarative style of Simmons’ singing jolts you with his first entrance, but soon lulls listeners into a slow swoon that maintains your attention and never sounds diffuse. There is, as stated above, a theatrical quality to the song, but what will really move listeners is the near classical sway of the piece and how everything holds together for a coherent listening experience. The production, likewise, enhances this and Simmons’ poetic talents dovetail quite nicely into his open-hearted delivery while remaining well in balance with the musical accompaniment.
The arrangement reveals these musicians to be keen eared songwriters and appreciators of form. “Angel Music Lover” has an inevitability we love in the greatest songs – every transition is predictable, but we are swept along by the sheer finesse of it and how it conforms to our own emotional experiences and life. The song, as well, never stretches listeners’ attention; knowing full well that screenplay songs should latch, lockstep, into the screenplay’s dramatic moments, “Angel Music Lover” follows a straight line from beginning to end and doesn’t have a single extraneous word or musical phrase bogging down its presentation.
It never smacks of pretentiousness as well. Instead, “Angel Music Lover” comes cut from real life and experiences, never leaning on clichés or formulaic elements to hold our attention. Simmons sings the lyric like a man who has waited his whole life for this moment when he can bear his heart for us and share experiences that reach far beyond the purview of typical pop or rock songs. This song asks important questions of the heart and takes no shortcuts in its journey. Instead, it confronts, lovingly, questions every adult can be haunted by and finds intently human answers.
One can only hope that “Angel Music Lover” and Finding David discover the widest possible audience. Simmons, Camp, and Lehti have traveled a lifetime to return to this place and they are obviously emboldened by creativity that the years have left undimmed. This is a single that’s lush, thoughtful, risky, and above all else, honest. Casual and hardcore music aficionados alike will find much to love here and it proves to be an excellent introduction to a project forty five years in the making but timely as ever. We need more songs like this in the world – it reminds us all of why we gravitated to music in the first place.
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