The Nightshift Watchman

David Wilcox

KOCH CD 7921

Koch Records
Port Washington, NY

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Roberta B. Schwartz
(rschwartz@oeb.harvard.edu)

David Wilcox is one of the true masters of the contemporary singer/songwriter form. Often compared to James Taylor for the rich, warm tones of his beautiful baritone vocals, Wilcox draws the listener in with the honesty and intimacy of a close friend. The emotions of everday life make up the canvas of David Wilcox's art. And no one describes the utter joy or deep sorrow of a particular moment in time like David Wilcox.

THE NIGHTSHIFT WATCHMAN was originally released in 1987 as Wilcox's debut recording on the Song of the Wood Music label. After many years, Koch Records brought it back into print in 1996. And what a gift this re-release of David's early work is! It's all there: the easygoing, pretty vocals; the soft-spoken, confessional lyrics; the skilled acoustic guitar work; and the warmth and intimacy David Wilcox brings to his music.

The recording opens with the title track, "The Nightshift Watchman," which tells the story of a man working the controls at a nuclear missile site. Wilcox works some irony here in that the job is merely a waiting game--should the guy do his job, there will be no more job left to do. But it's not only the unusual subject matter that holds our attention, it's David's brilliant guitar picking and warm, compelling vocals that make this song a standout. "Frozen in the Snow," about a family member's suicide, is made special by the sensitivity of Wilcox's lyrics and the heartfelt emotion in his voice. The deep feelings conveyed here are enhanced by the gorgeous flute accompaniment of Lisa Giuntoli.

My favorite cut is "That's Why I'm Laughing," an ode to Wilcox's father. This deeply moving song hits that special place in the heart reserved for dad. Wilcox's guitar is especially expressive here. "Golden Key" introduces a bit of blues into the mix, featuring the fine playing of Stewart Reinhardt on sax. "Do I Dare" is vintage Wilcox--sensitive lyrics spoken from the deep passion and feeling of David's pretty baritone. He could be your friend, your lover or your brother--someone close.

The pared down production by Jerry Read Smith places Wilcox's crisp acoustic guitar work and intimate vocal style front and center. There is no accompanying electric guitar or flashy back-up band here. And this is how it should be. David Wilcox and his guitar. And no one does it better.

Edited by Shawn Linderman

Copyright 1997, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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