REVIEW: American Harmony by David Van Auken

When listening to new music or artists, I sometimes like to go in blind. Just hit play and see what happens. Sometimes I like to do research and know what I’m getting into. The latter unfortunately often creates preconceived notions of what an artist might sound like, the former allows for surprise.

Surprise is what I got when I listened to American Harmony by David Van Auken.

The words American Harmony entices thoughts of songs and words dedicated to the American way, the American dream, but the reality was American Harmony was music dedicated to the mood, the feeling, and the vibe of America.

David’s bluesy finger picking style of playing is a wonderful sound to the ears. It allows the notes of the guitar string to unfold, bend, and shape into succulent textures and tones.

Having studied American guitar form, David said this of the album,

At some point in early 2021 I realized I had about 17 original guitar pieces, and it occurred to me that maybe I should record an album. Most of the songs, while somewhat technical in playing style, are pretty simple structurally, so I thought it’d be fun to go into the studio and see what additional instrumentals I could come up with as a means of broadening them. I’ve always been a big fan of electronic and experimental music that leans towards the ambient realm and I thought it’d be cool to see if I could approach some of the sounds I’d heard in those styles to see how it’d blend with my guitar playing.

American Harmony also features David on snyths, melodica, and squeezebox along with Benjamin Creek on cello and J.J. Gregg on sitar.

American Harmony is a perfect companion to watching the sunset over Americana. It allows and encourages reflection and grace from the listener and hopefully invokes a calm peace within as the last notes of the album drift into the night.

MUST LISTEN TRACKS: “Pichilinque”, “Lander”, “Somnambulance”

FAVOURITE TRACKS: “Pichilinque”, “Somnambulance”