David Saw | Broken Down Figure (Iris)

cd_david-saw.jpgBroken Down Figure is both sad and hopeful, showing off Saw’s songwriting chops and lyrical ability.







I have a reputation for going ga-ga over male singer/songwriters. Toss in a guitar and a piano and I’ll own my reputation, gladly. But lately, some not-so-great efforts have crowded my iPod. And so, when I first picked up British songwriter David Saw’s album, I was hesitant. I listened to it two, three, four times, and then finally allowed myself to delight in its rhythm and easy style, carrying hints of jazz, folk and pop effortlessly.

Broken Down Figure is Saw’s second full-length album and his U.S. debut. Released on Ben Taylor’s (legendary crooner James Taylor’s son) label Iris Records, Broken Down Figure represents the next step in Saw’s rise. Saw is a seasoned musician who, after a stint in a band called Some Like It Hot, spent the better part of the ’90s exploring the accessible music scene and playing everything from bluegrass to R&B and rock ‘n’ roll.

In 2001, Saw had a chance meeting with Mark Nevin, singer with Fairground Attractions, and changed his course. Encouraged by Nevin, Saw began to write his own songs and got the courage to perform them live on his own tour. By the time A Different Story was released in 2003, Saw was getting the right accolades and was ready to tour with some of his idols, including Patti Griffin and Ray Davies. It was also during this time of personal success that Saw met Ben Taylor and instantly bonded with the fellow musician and appreciator.

Saw soon crossed the pond and met Taylor’s mom Carly Simon. Simon later co-wrote a song called "I’ll Remember You" and recorded one of Saw’s earliest efforts, "Quite Evening," both of which appear on Simon’s 2007 release Into White.

Broken Down Figure was recorded surrounded by the Taylor/Simon family of musicians, but carries a blend of sounds that combine Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Paul Simon with just enough pop music infusions to keep it fresh. Broken Down Figure is both sad and hopeful, showing off Saw’s songwriting chops and lyrical ability.

The album kicks off with the sad, sad, sad ballad "Don’t Call," a song about moving forward after a breakup and breaking the habit of hearing your loved one’s voice. Saw laments, "I can’t walk backwards and I can’t slow it down/ You started the ball rolling and you can’t turn it around/ You should leave the dust here, where it falls/ stop this hanging on, please don’t call."

The fourth track, "By My Record" is a rollicking, alt-country attempt that sounds a whole lot like the Old 97’s or Ryan Adams. It’s a self-mocking, unapologetically upbeat tune with well-timed harmonies and piano grooves.

"Savannah’s World" is an interesting song. In Saw’s press biography, written by Carly Simon, it states, "Savannah’s World…is about a young girl David met on MySpace who, out of the blue, and for very good and very bad and very odd-shaped reasons, asked him to marry her." At first listen, the song is beautiful and a little heartbreaking. On second listen, it definitely has that crush-on-teacher vibe. But still, is delivered with a beautiful melody and vivid lyrics.

This is a great coffeehouse, lazy-afternoon record. It’s a bit short and leaves you wishing there were a few more tracks. But all in all, I am content. B | Raymee Holshouser

RIYL: Josh Rouse, Ryan Adams, Jack Johnson, Old 97’s

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