David McFarlane

Independent release, 2018

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


David McFarlane is a Toronto singer-songwriter, visual artist, and multi-instrumentalist. His sophomore album, Fieldwork, highlights his timeless melodies well, as the self-described alt-folk sounds unfold with layered vocals, contributions on pedal steel, violin and percussion, and, perhaps most noteworthy, strong lyrical work that's clever, insightful and eloquent. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Miss Kubelik” starts the album with crunchy guitars, warm vocals, and a dense yet playful spirit of subdued alt-rock meet country rock. “River Of News” follows with an adventurous jangle that resides closer to roots rock territory. Elsewhere, the mood becomes quieter with the acoustic soulfulness of “As Usual,” while the multi-faceted instrumental “The Life And Death Of Tom Thompson” weaves in and out of prog-like moments as well as fuller bouts of thick rock 'n' roll while still maintaining a rustic spirit.

The back half of the listen is just as impressive. “Rongwrong” yields a charming and playful folk-rocker that sounds right out of the '60s, and “Caledonia” recruits strategic blues riffs to reel us in to the lush rocker. Near the end, “You Always” offers a stark, mysterious, and eventually ethereal affair sans vocals, and “Pattern Of You” exits the record with a restrained, ambient, simmering tension that that's as cautious as it is mesmerizing.

An artist who is very proud of his Canadian heritage and often references his home country in his subject matter, McFarlane is in great company here with Brad Kilpatrick (The Once, Adam Baldwin, Dan Mangan, etc.) on drums, bass, and vibraphone. McFarlane's family often contribute on vocals and violin, too. Although I wouldn't say McFarlane sounds much like him, his strong songwriting prowess, and careful attention to atmosphere, and diverse delivery draw parallels to fellow Canadian Daniel Romano. And, if you're familiar with Romano's work, you'll realize that's about as big a compliment as you're going to get out of anyone.

Rating: A-

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