Christian Musician Magazine
Review of "Long Roots"
Jul/Aug 2014 Issue
by Shawn McLaughlin
While David White has a history in the Christian industry as a staff writer for the Universal label and has written songs that have been hits for some well known Christian artists (Avalon for instance), this is his very first foray into solo record making, as he has spent his time in Nashville practicing medicine as a pediatrician for over 20 years. Hearing LONG ROOTS, an epic example of bluegrass influenced folk-pop, one can’t help but ask the question “what the heck took you so long?!”
A shining example of storytelling at its best, David White’s debut full length album is great because of the very personal way he tells stories, even those not drawn from real life circumstance, so that they resonate with anyone who has traveled the pathway of human experience.
With songs that relate the faithfulness of a prayer warrior (“Midnight Shift at the Maplewood Methodist Church”), take the perspective of the divine, offering covering and comfort (“If You Ever Need a Friend”), extol the importance of drawing from past experience for strength (“My Mississippi”) and even more frivolous subjects like the murder ballad, “Smoking Gun” or the ode to a delusional Romeo in a singles bar, “I Get the Hint”, White has the gift of showing truth and value, even in mundane circumstance.
What propels this album into instant classic status is the improbably great band that White put together on his first try at making a record. How does this lineup sound? Bryan Sutton on Guitar and stringed instruments, Stuart Duncan on Fiddle, The immortal Jerry Douglas on Dobro, Nashville stalwart, Greg garrison on bass, Paul Franklin on pedal steel, session legend, Eric Darken on percussion. Oh…..and a couple of fellas named Chris Thile on mandolin and Dan Tyminski on backing vocals. As if stellar songs weren’t enough, a world class country/pop/bluegrass band only pushes the project into overdrive.
Musically, while the players would suggest that this is a strictly country/bluegrass effort, White actually folds a healthy dose of James Taylor inspired pop flavor into his melodies, giving LONG ROOTS a universal appeal. He even possesses a Taylor-esque vocal presence to match. White closes the album with a stunning elegy to life lived with eternity in mind, called “End of the Road” which I could hear being sung at memorial services generations from now.
No matter what your musical taste is, it is virtually impossible not to be impressed with how musically audacious and lyrically extraordinary David White’s debut entry into the world of recorded music is.
Shawn McLaughlin is the Reviews Editor for Christian Musician Magazine