DAVID HOFFBRAND To The Sound Of A Different Drum Branded (2006)
David Hoffman's arrived at his singer-songwriter debut by a circuitous route. Growing up in London, he travelled Europe, living in France and Spain, before returning to London via a reclusive period in the Scottish Highlands.
Reason Why opens the album and it's melodic rock that would be ideally suited to American FM radio. It's not unlike the Clapton of the 461 Ocean Boulevard era with Naomi Price delivering some wonderful backing vocals, playing Yvonne Elliman to David's Clapton.
Delta is introduced by acoustic and slide guitar. There's some excellent guitar work and it's another radio friendly number. The title track is a gentle blues boogie that opens with a Doobies/Faces riff. Again Naomi Price's backing vocals add a real depth.
Dreamer owes much to Dylan – some lovely bass, harmonica and guitar. And once again the contribution from Naomi Price raises the number above the average. Out The Other Side is a mid tempo number that plods along until the jams are kicked out in the final minute in an explosion of guitar and backing vocals.
Calling is David Gray meets Steely Dan. Again the some of the best playing – organ and guitar is left until the track is fading. And yet again, on Go Higher - a particularly gripping number - some lovely guitar work is left to the last minute and a half.
Little Lamb is pure Jack Johnson. Wide As A River is a sprawling melodic rock number and a clear standout – beautifully constructed and played. Classic rock with the vocals and guitar work in the fade being nothing short of orgasmic.
The album closes with I Belong To You and Lullaby. The former - with the absence of backing vocals - exposes the lack of range in David's vocals. It's not one of the stronger offerings here. Lullaby is another Jack Johnson type number.
There are some excellent songs here, some great playing, and sublime backing and accompanying vocals from Naomi Price. The weakness, I'm afraid, is David's vocals. They're perfectly serviceable but they're just not particularly strong or distinctive and to a large part their shortfall is covered by Naomi's contributions - which often fall little short of duets.
And I'd like to have seen more of the 'jamming' in the final minutes of many of the numbers converted into mid sections – too often they're cut off in their prime. Overall, I can't help but think that if Clapton had recorded this album it would probably be hailed as his greatest work.