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Friday, December 3, 2021

CD review: Dave Smallen

Artist: Dave Smallen

Album: Everything Changes and Nothing Changes

Label: Self-released

Rating: 4

The day that Street to Nowhere broke up was devastating for many in the Bay Area local music scene. Luckily, front man Dave Smallen has emerged as a brilliant solo artist with a debut that feels like a soundtrack of his life.

The highly personal and emotional album was released one song at a time online for months – culminating into a full-length, physical LP accompanied by the musician’s other artwork: individual woodcuts corresponding to each song.

Smallen’s style is not easily categorized. Leonard Cohen is an obvious influence. Classic alternative rock elements are present and then a moog synthesizer is thrown in. But the focal point of every song is always the beautiful lyricism, which evokes surprisingly wise pensiveness and nostalgia without sounding sentimental.

Words sprinkled in like “torrential” show why Smallen attended UCLA, and Everything Changes and Nothing Changes shows why he was right to drop out.

Give these tracks a listen: “America,” “Carolann,” “I Think It’s Getting Better”

For fans of: Bright Eyes, Street to Nowhere

– Janelle Bitker

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