Back to Contents


Son of Dave

Son of Dave - 01

Son of Dave - 01 is an album in a completely new musical genre and as such, is quite difficult to describe. It was clearly created by the blending of strong influences and original experimentation and is therefore just as difficult to categorise

Here’s what you can say about this album: It’s a mixture of modern R&B, hip-hop and electronics with an edge ; it has a strong bluesy feeling and (naturally) a lot of harmonica. The harp player in question and leader of the project is Benjamin Darvill, who has played with, among others, the Crash Test Dummies. He was obviously brought up on the blues and has a great love for the instrument. So the first thing we can say is that "Son of Dave - 01" is an album the likes of which you have probably never heard before.

It opens with a hard, pseudo-live, slide riff quickly joined by harmonica and drums. Nothing new so far, until suddenly a wave of Fender-Rhodes style synthesiser envelops everything and a Diva like voice takes up the main theme. The harmonica weaves in an out of the lead, all this on a tight and funky rhythm. This first track, "Devil Take My Soul" is characteristic of the whole with its mix of genres and the quality of the performance.

Let's talk about harmonica for a while. "Son of Dave - 01" is not strictly speaking a "harmonica" album but there is a lot of it and the variety of the roles it plays is nothing less than astonishing : from the classic solo role to haunting rhythm (as on a "dance floor" version of the blues classic "Rolling and Tumblin’" ) to horn section (on "She’ll Hold Her Breath ") and atmospheric layering (throughout.) Benjamin Darvill is a fine player even though this album does not reveal any particular virtuosity. What is surprising and makes him an artist of note is his inventiveness and the way he uses the harp sound in different textures, from sharp and clear to saturated or modified by special effects but always recognisable.

At the end of the day, I find it particularly interesting to see the harmonica at last finding its way out of the blues ghetto and making itself known little by little within other musical contexts. What I find particularly interesting in the case of Benjamin Darvill and his "Son of Dave - 01" is that this is the kind of music that gets airtime and can be appreciated and enjoyed by the under 20’s generation. Integrating the harp in modern musical form is the only way to keep the instrument alive and Benjamin Darvill does it with talent and a quality of production beyond reproach. The fact that he does it with an obvious love of the harmonicas roots is an added bonus.
Personally, I am not a great fan of electronic music but I have to admit that once any preconceived ideas have been laid to rest, "Son of Dave" makes very pleasant listening. I can wholeheartedly recommend this album if your musical tastes should be hip-hop, trip hop or electro hop or if your ears are tuned to modern styles.

Benoît Felten

Purchase Information