Anthony David - Hello Like Before (2018)

Anthony David
anthonydavid-hello.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Anthony David - Hello Like Before

Anthony David would rank high among the artists whom fans would want to explore the Bill Withers songbook. The two soulful singer/songwriters have a few things in common: Both are great guitarists and lyricists who have a penchant for crafting stories and using songs to create memorable characters. David and Withers are also military veterans.

Anthony David - Hello Like Before

Anthony David would rank high among the artists whom fans would want to explore the Bill Withers songbook. The two soulful singer/songwriters have a few things in common: Both are great guitarists and lyricists who have a penchant for crafting stories and using songs to create memorable characters. David and Withers are also military veterans.

So, it’s not surprising that Hello Like Before, David’s heartfelt and faithful tribute to the music of Bill Withers, includes a version of “I Can’t Write Left-Handed.” David doesn’t stray too far from Withers’ classic version of this Vietnam era tune about the micro-level cost of war, right down to the dirge-like hums from the backing vocalists. What distinguishes David’s version is the personal touch that he gives to the monolog that opens the tune. Withers wrote this song in 1973, and recorded it around the time that America’s military role in Southeast Asia was coming to an end. Withers introduced “I Can’t Write Left-Handed” by telling the now famous story his encounter with the veteran who asked him to write a letter to his mother because the man’s right arm had been amputated.

David profoundly fuses elements of Withers’ monolog into his own reflections that illustrated how the sacrifices made by that small segment of mostly conscripted men who fought for America in Vietnam is connected – often by blood relations – to the volunteers that answered the nation’s call in the 1990s and 2000s.

As stated earlier, Hello Like Before, is a straight forward album of Withers’ covers. That David did not include a Club Nouveau styled reimagination of a tune such as “Lean or Me,” or Jon Lucien’s up-tempo remake of “Hello Like Before” reflects the Georgian’s strong identity as a have-guitar-will-travel singer/songwriter in his own right.

David established his reputation as a lyricist and master storyteller in the tradition of craftsmen such as Withers when he came out the box with his 2004 debut Three Chords and the Truth that included tracks such as “Cheating Man,” one of soulful and bluesy ballads that brims with the kind of fragility, self-reflection and angst that Withers brought to some of his classic tear jerkers such as “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Better off Dead,” and “Hope She’ll Be Happier. “The latter tune is featured on Hello Like Before.

There are plenty of Withers tunes that I David could have recorded. I, for one, would have loved for him to have taken on “Who Is He (And What Is He To You),” but Hello Like Before is a well-balance mixture of big hits such as “Lovely Day” and “Use Me” and underappreciated gems from the Withers songbook like “You Just Can’t Smile It Away,” and “Kissing My Love.” For longtime Withers fans, Hello Like Before will serve as a reminder of the incredible Bill Withers songbook, performed in fine fashion by the perfect next gen artist; for younger fans unfamiliar with Withers’ legacy, it will simply be a revelation. Solidly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
Choice Cut - Kenya - "Favorite Things"
Choice Cut - Sy Smith - "Camelot"
Featured Album - Conya Doss - CLEAR
See The Nominees! - SoulTracks Readers' Choice Awards

Leave a comment!