Toni Braxton once said that “Singers are a dime a dozen and record companies have a dollar to spend” meaning that singers were a relatively cheap commodity. You could probably cast a net and be reasonably sure to catch quite a few choice “fishes”. But then there is David Archuleta who is not your ordinary, garden variety singer. His is the kind of voice that comes along once in awhile which when embellished with a sensitive, soulful nature, results in a vocal virtuosity that shakes the senses. A voice that cuts through you with its intensity and emotional spear. This “impaling” is all the more cogent when David sings live. In the music industry studio manipulation and “engineering” can make even me sound like Placido Domingo [ Kylie ;-) ]. It is in a live setting that the true abilities of a singer comes forth and is laid open for all to savour or not. In this environment David is a master as all the subtle hues of his vocals are displayed in a wondrous spectrum. All the technical wizadry of his vocal training comes through so natural and unforced. I feel that his studio works seldom capture this palette and his debut album, on the whole, is no exception other than a few moments here and there. But this doesn’t mean I’m not in favour of the album rather I hope that future producers would take the time to work with David and try to encapsulate the honesty and sincerity that he brings to his live performance. As for the sessions, I have listened to it ( multiple times I must add :-) ) and conclude that David is one of those individuals who sound just as good live if not better as he does on cd. This is no easy feat as many a “singer” have been found to be woefully inadequate when you thrust them onto the stage.
First off Crush is easily his best live performance of this song thus far. He is supremely comfortable and at ease with the song and this time his band has eased off on the robustness of their musical backing which allows David’s voice to be heard more clearly. He has improved by leaps and bounds with singing Crush live. ALTNOY has that pop-rock vibe here – in fact all of the songs ( other than You Can ) has such a feeling – which lends it a more potent sound. I especially like the guitar riffs in the background. Now surprisingly TMH is my favourite of the sessions although on the cd I feel its overprocessed. Again the pop-rock beat here is simply addictive and I find myself bopping my head to the beat which I don’t when listening to the song on the cd. There’s more “muscle” to the song and I really like the vocal harmonizing with his band. You can also see that his band members are really getting into the groove of the song which has turned out to be a really great number when performed live. My Hands is a really difficult song to sing live as the transition from verse to chorus is done in a heartbeat. There’s hardly time for David to pause and catch his breath! But he does it with aplomb and if ever he feels like adding twists to the song as he gets more comfortable with it, it’ll be a great crowd puller at a concert. But even at this juncture David’s vocals just sells the song with its sensual lower notes and the tense yearning of the higher reaches. Plus that smile at the end. I’m conflicted with You Can as I feel that David glossed over the treatment of this song as I didn’t feel much of the passion. It felt strangely flat and colourless to me and you’ll probably accuse me of being sacrilegious when I say this as most if not all of us feel that his particular forte is ballads. But try as I might – even after repeated hearings – I couldn’t feel the emotions as I usually do when he sings ballads. That’s why I’m a bit nonplussed here. What do you guys think?
But the sessions have only reinforced the fact that David is an extraordinarily gifted vocalist especially when he sings live. It is as if he blooms and blossoms in full on the stage. Like Randy says, he was born to do this and you can see it in his demeanour when he sings, clutching that mic stand while he throws his whole being into the songs fully enjoying the moment and in turn drawing us in. I can’t tear my eyes away, he’s incandescant and his vocal faculties acquire that extra edge and magnitude that is yet to be fully captured on cd. It’s so great to see him front and center in the videos and he has, in a short time, gelled very well with his band and they seem to have forged a cohesive unit. The songs sounds amazing in these sessions with David at vocals accompanied by a live band and together they imbue a maturity and integrity to the music which is not so obvious otherwise. The clear conclusion to draw here is that all David needs are just drums, guitars, keyboard and he’s good enough to go. There’s no need for gimmicky, superflous studio machinations to drown his musicality with vapid, saccharine sweetnesss – future producers take note.
I see the sparkle of a million flashlights, a wonderwall of stars but the one that’s shining out so bright is the one right where you, David Archuleta, are.
Now if only he’ll make his way over to our part of the world for a concert.