If the world is ending for prolific singer/songwriter David Luning, it’s ending with a good-natured, two-steppin’ dance that everyone can tap their feet along to. His new album ‘Just Drop On By’ is a fusion of thoughtful, melodic folk and pulse-quickening Americana that is instantly accessible, smile-inducing, and very, very charming.
The instrument work is amazing, but it is David’s vocals, gritty and heartfelt, both strong and vulnerable, that takes the spotlight and shine in a way that stands him out from the crowd. There are almost two separate albums in this work – one with a hapless, dance-worthy country drawl to it that throws all cares to the wind and rolls the windows down, and another that is thoughtful and melodic, with universal themes about life and wonderful slide guitar swoons. The good news is that both sides of the coin are good!
Even in the noisiest tracks, David’s words are easily understood and we’re thankful for that. Humor, pathos and depth all take their turns in his stories. “Buddies Till the End” is a warm, humorous commentary on friendship, with a wonderful surprise at the end. “A Little Bit Bad” is a gentle, beautiful fable about accepting the bad in life with the good, and understand that you often can’t have the good without the other. The slide guitar is absolutely beautiful in this track, soaring and swinging throughout the choruses. “Always Gonna Be That Way” is a song that takes despair and joyfully flings it at the listener, with a twist at the end that will leave everybody smiling.
Actually, nearly every song is bound to leave the listener smiling. Underneath many of the dark themes of the songs is an overall sense of happiness that permeates this album, often in a delightfully paradox to the subject matter of these songs. There are some tear-jerkers though – “You and Me and the Devil in Between” is about a relationship headed downward – The flowers in the vase are all dead and brown/dancin’ in the hallway, just a memory for us now There is a great, galloping rhythm to the song, but it’s also very sad. “Northern California,” “Bed of Roses,” and a few others have their share of Americana melancholy. Their presence on the album serve as both a welcome duality and variety to the tracks, and also give it depth and meaning.
The Summary: David Luning’s debut album “Just Drop on By” is a gritty, joyful, soulful piece of Americana that is instantly accessible and definitely worth picking up. We hope to hear much, much more from him in the years to come, and this is sure to establish him as a definitive voice in the Americana/folk scene.