Artist: Dave Gahan And Soulsavers
Genre: Pop / Soul / Gospel / Covers
Release Date: 12th November 2021
Label: Columbia Records
You can’t blame DAVE GAHAN for wanting to explore all facets of life, frequently trapped under the weight of DEPECHE MODE expectations that show no sign of abating, no matter how hard the band try to write increasingly bland material. You feel, at times, the man could bottle his breath and it would sell. But this is to underestimate a performer who dares to take risks - let’s not forget, upon deciding he wasn’t Rock’n’Roll enough he promptly went off and was so rock ‘n roll he died. He is a captivating live presence, and a formidable vocalist, instantly recognisable in tone and yet multi-faceted in delivery. And so, teaming up with SOULSAVERS once again, there seemed no question that this release would differ from the previous one. And it does.
Despite the press release guff about this not being a covers album (“it’s a representation of songs that DAVE GAHAN & SOULSAVERS have heard, studied, absorbed and brought to life”), it is a covers album, obviously, and no amount of postulating will reduce that fact. But it’s an interesting selection, and the interpretations are curious and largely successful - mixing elements of gospel, blues and soul into songs that previously were complete strangers to such genres.
An excellent entry point is CAT POWER’s ‘Metal Heart’, the initial gentle meander gradually working itself up into a fever of passion and barely restrained emotion, the gospel choir way off in the distance the glue that holds it together as the whole song tumbles about in increasingly frantic desperation. At the other end of the scale is BOB DYLAN’s ‘Not Dark yet’, a song that’s been crying out for a decent vocal its whole life, and is now provided with one. The guitar work sparkles here, warm and vibrant - but those gospel singers are lurking again in the background, and it’s one of the many times on ‘Imposter’ where their presence feels superfluous. When Metal bands added orchestras to their songs, it didn’t always give them the epic, classical, cultural feel they presumed it would. Same here. Relentless holy-moly cooing does not automatically add soul (man).
Elsewhere, MARK LANEGAN’s ‘Strange Religion’ is smoothed over gracefully with the Gahan croon, and PJ HARVEY’s ‘The Desperate Kingdom Of Love’ sounds magnificent, bold and full of swagger and attitude. GENE CLARK’s ‘Where My Love Lies Asleep’ is given a once-over, and clearly our hero is not shy about who he tackles - his vocals throughout show far more adaptability and range than he allows himself within his parent band, and there’s a lot more emotion and understanding in that voice than perhaps he’s given credit for. Misstep of the album is closer ‘Always On My Mind’, a song so familiar it’s like trying to reignite some interest in a corpse. It’s all been done, there’s nothing to add, and it’s the only lazy and somewhat self-indulgent pick on ‘Imposter’.
There’s a lot to be said for an artist going off and doing their own thing. And since DAVE GAHAN is primarily a vocalist, it’s fitting that he pushes and explores the limits of this talent, not playing it forever safe, but allowing the full range of his experiences, influences and interests to surface. ‘Imposter’ is far from a brilliant album, but it’s entertaining enough as these things go. And it’ll keep the party-faithful happy until the next leaden plop of a DM album can be heard wedging itself into stadiums the world over. Good for you Dave.
01. The Dark End Of The Street
02. Strange Religion
03. Lilac Wine
04. I Held My Baby Last Night
05. A Man Needs A Maid
06. Metal Heart
07. Shut Me Down
08. Where My Love Lies Asleep
10. The Desperate Kingdom Of Love
11. Not Dark Yet
12. Always On My Mind
http://www.davegahan.com / https://www.instagram.com/theimposter
Total: 7 / 10