Dave Preston, Soundtrack for Motion

The real beauty of a Dave Preston CD is in the way that polished, calm, ambient guitar inventions wrap effortlessly around a folk-rock sensibility that quite often shines through the shimmer. The borderline between his two styles is so narrow, singer/songwriter Matt Morris, with whom Preston has toured, took the tune “Be-Joy” from Preston’s first CD and re-crafted it into a beautiful ballad called “Just Before the Morning.”

The same is likely to happen with one or more tracks from Preston’s latest, Soundtrack for Motion. Melodic pieces like “The Blood in Your Veins” and the heartbreaking “Feeling God Has Left You” (with ethereal violin work by Sam Gathman) seem ready-made to have lyrics just slotted into them–but they also succeed quite nicely on their own, lacking for nothing. Preston can also hang a whispery guitar drone in the air, as he does with “Flashing Emergency Lights,” a nice bit of build/sustain/fade and  “I’m Sorry,” a textured wash like intense but musical static. There’s also a fairly experimental track, “Spinning Away from the Earth,” featuring fellow Denverite Mingo, whose work I also quite like. This one sometime seems like it’s the outsider in the group, falling just shy of fitting in, but after a few listens I grew to like it more.

A pair of highlight tracks drive home the fact that Preston is, first and foremost, a top-notch guitarist. (He has played with, among others, Charlie Sexton, Tab Benoit, Justin Timberlake and Paula Cole.) “A Giant Leap of Faith” is the “big” track on Soundtrack…, with Preston building the thing in increasing layers, a wordless prayer-wail vocal coursing over it. In structure it reminds me of “Be-Alive,” my favorite track from his first disc. And then there’s “Sweet Sound of Escape,” a high-energy piece where Preston flails away at his axe (or axes) while showing what sounds like a bit of influence from U2’s Edge.  This one leaves me breathless.

I said in my review of his first disc, Be, that I was waiting to hear more from Dave Preston. In Soundtrack for Motion he has created a work that was very well worth the wait. It is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD.

Available from CD Baby.

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