Diamonds and Roses – Dave Giles (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

If the term “singer-songwriter” conjures up images of gap-year troubadours in wide-brimmed hats, waxing love-lorn and lyrical over a working knowledge of A minor in the corner of a basement venue, then you need a bit of Dave Giles in your life. Sure, he describes himself as a singer-songwriter but I guess only in the sense that he writes songs and..err…sings. Because somewhere between him penning a song and it navigating the recording process he manages to transform those songs into something much more than the term suggests.

Diamonds and Roses kicks off with a real kick-arse, low-slung, foot on the monitor groover in the form of Elizabeth I, a song which if it had sprung from a Tom Petty album would have raised approximately zero eyebrows. It is perky and punchy, upbeat and infectious, a sort of blend of Americana bravado and old-school British rock and roll.

And having proved that he has a wicked way with stadium-ready anthemic rock, The Weatherman shows a more understated side, a folky acoustic number largely unadorned except for the angelic harmonies of Lizzie Brankin, and let me tell you that that is all that is needed here. Little Black Stone runs on soulful country vibes, simple shuffle beats, chiming piano and just the occasional shard of sonic guitar punctuation to add the required amount of dynamic lift.

Maggie Knows round things off, a return to the full band sound but with the, by now expected, the perfect blend of restraint, slow-burning its way towards the epic crescendoes and sonic uplifts of the EP’s logical conclusion.

Surrounding yourself with such luminaries as Skillet’s Dave Holland, Candlebox’s Adam Kury and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Pearl Jam drummer Dave Krusen is always going to help the cause but everything starts with the song. Diamonds and Roses is proof that not only does Dave have the songs, he knows just how to dress them, or otherwise, in the perfect sonic trappings.

Singer-Songwriter indeed! He’s so much more than such a term could ever hope to suggest.

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