Birds On Wires
There is a stream-of-consciousness flow to singer/songwriter David Tomaloff’s lyrics that can be a tad jarring at first. Just when you think you’re riding comfortably on Tomaloff’s thought process, he suddenly switches gears; in the end, only random bits of expression lodge themselves in the memory room. However, anybody familiar with the early works of R.E.M. should be used to it; in fact, Tomaloff often makes more sense than Michael Stipe did back then. But the scribbled words and tossed-off phrases help provide Tomaloff with a unique place in a crowded Americana field, like Beck writing songs for Neil Young.
Lyrics aside, Birds on Wires immediately develops a friendly sense of familiarity. The opening cut, “Till Tomorrow,” balances the folky charms of Bob Dylan with the Southern roots rock of Tom Petty. Piano and harmonica produce that down-on-the-range atmosphere which camouflages the Beat poetry of Tomaloff’s songwriting. “Sticks and Stones” is propelled by jangly riffs and pedal steel guitar. The words are rooted in playground defiance but their meaning becomes enigmatic and open to interpretation in Tomaloff’s new context. Tomaloff sounds world-weary on the acoustic “The Losing Kind” but then revs up steam with the locomotive rush of “Where I’ll Be Found” (imagine Petty without the snarl) and the classic rock blast of “Hyde, CA.”
Tomaloff hits his peak on the dark, moody “Looking for Stars.” This track is definitely reminiscent of mid-’80s R.E.M. with its ominous twang and crisp, energetic drums; it’s a real prize. What does it mean, though? Who knows? Part of what makes Tomaloff so compelling is the guessing game that he inspires from his listeners.
David Tomaloff: www.davidtomaloff.com