If David Myhr’s first solo record, Soundshine, was meant to remind you he was a founding member of The Merrymakers, his latest is meant to remind you he’s an excellent songwriter.
That can be a tough thing to accomplish in the very loose amalgamation known as the power-pop genre. Like its aggravated cousin, punk rock, power-pop can get by on its sound, and many artists have. Some have done very well by it, too, but beneath the sunny emotions, the good-time energy, and the snappy beat, some of the actual songwriting can be found lacking.
It’s never been the case for Myhr, who even in his Merrymakers days attempted to make more of his proving ground than some of his peers. He does so again with his new album, Lucky Day, albeit with a few significant shifts. This one is a bit more melancholic than its immediate predecessor, despite the immediate sing-a-long charms of the opening “Jealous Sun,” a track more in keeping with your expectations.
The tonal shift inches in with “My Negative Friend,” which winks and nods towards a McCartney-style confection, as well as the following “Room To Grow.” We arrive at this point of departure with “Every Day It Rains.” It’s still a hopeful, positive sentiment as Myhr is wont to deliver, but there’s an ’70s A.M. radio restraint to it that, possibly, wouldn’t have been in play a few years ago. The same goes for the country-ish title track, a sweetly constructed bit of romance.
Once we’ve crossed that line, tracks like “Lovebug” and the closing “The Only Thing I Really Need Is You” sound perfectly of a piece with the rest of the package. (Please note: the CD has four additional tracks.) In all, Lucky Day is a lovely song cycle from a singer/songwriter with something to prove.
Thus, I have concerns that the audience may not be prepared for it, and I hope my spoilers here can guide you through instead of turning you off. There isn’t an immediate, grab-you-and-shake-you pop anthem on here like Soundshine‘s “Got You Where He Wanted.” Lucky Day‘s tracks are more subtle and require you to meet it halfway, and you should certainly make that effort – it’s not that difficult.
I’ll put it this way: last year, I reviewed Squeeze’s The Knowledge. It took some time for me to get on its wavelength, as Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook have matured so far past “Pulling Mussels” and “Hourglass.” I kept missing what I had in the midst of looking for all the bits I hadn’t. The Knowledge, as it turned out, was a fine record.
David Myhr is on a similar trajectory. He still writes songs meant to put a smile on your face, but he’s got a whole other level of sophistication happening here, one that a diehard Merrymakers fan might find as a shock on first listen. Work through your initial reaction and you’ll find he’s just as creative, tuneful and, yes, poppy as ever, but not everything needs to be in bold primary colors. Give David Myhr’s Lucky Day a chance and it will reward you in return.