With Falling in Place, his highly-anticipated sophomore release, Dave SanSoucie triumphantly emerges as that rare talent in the music industry capable of intimating the universal truths of the human experience through personal snapshots of a singular life journey. Donning the myriad hats of singer/songwriter, musician, producer, and engineer, Dave SanSoucie, under tongue-in-cheek moniker Dave SanSoucie and the Invisible Combo, presents a stellar follow-up to his well-received solo debut, Dead in Dog Years (1999).
SanSoucie’s musical vision has always been challenging to categorize or pigeon-hole into any particular genre. His Dead in Dog Years-era recordings tend to paint him as a consummate multi-instrumentalist stepping into the spotlight to curate and interpret great songs from varied sources. Case in point, nearly half of that album consists of compositions by artists and colleagues as diverse as David Olney, Richard Thompson and The Neville Brothers, with predominantly co-written originals and instrumental excursions rounding it out. The eleven all-original compositions on Falling in Place, augmented by a scant few co-writes, put SanSoucie’s focus squarely on the craft of songwriting.
Falling in Place opens with the radio-friendly “Unhinged,” a catchy beat-backed peon to one man’s hard look in the mirror of middle age. SanSoucie beautifully articulates the narrator’s concurrent jolt of awareness, disappointment, confusion and reflection, singing, “One day you wake up… you don’t look like a kid/ you can’t remember, much less regret, half the things you did/You’re a little boy living in a worn out piece of skin/Left to ponder, your mind will wander again and again.”
Throughout Falling in Place, SanSoucie manages to skirt and blend the musical idioms of folk, rock, country, jam band, reggae, and world music, often within individual songs. Perhaps the best example of this observation is whimsical south-of-the-border love-and-murder ballad, “Cowboy Killers and Morning Glories,” co-written with songwriter Josh Leik and Lori Fries-SanSoucie, the real-life “Bonnie Parker” to SanSoucie’s own “Clyde Barrow.”
Driven by a rolling percussion loop in 6/8 time, “Rocks,” an easy contender for best album cut, is ostensibly a celebration of love and lust winding its soulful way down a river of lush organ and bass interplay, culminating in SanSoucie telling his lover, “The way that you move me, I go insane/I need rocks in my pockets so I won’t be blown away.”
Elsewhere on Falling in Place, SanSoucie asserts himself as an auteur producer and arranger. His flourishes on “Both Wings,” a Matthew Jackson poem set to original music, recall the work of contemporaries like Daniel Lanois and Joe Henry.
Other highlights include “Cold Wind,” SanSoucie’s world-weary rumination on touring Europe during the winter months, which features some of his most tasteful lead guitar on record to date, and “A Dog’s Head,” which was inspired by Jean Dutourd’s novel of the same name about Edmund Du Chaillu, a boy born with the head of a spaniel. Longtime fans of SanSoucie will relish his decision to include previously unrecorded live staple “Ultimate Currency,” a heartfelt tribute to departed bassist, friend and musical collaborator Ralph Weyant, Jr.
Thousands of live gigs and studio projects, including over thirty years of touring the United States and Europe as both solo artist and cohort of country, folk and rock luminaries as varied as David Olney, Sonny Hennig, John Winch and Tiny Tim, have invariably informed Dave SanSoucie’s writing and playing. For instance, just listen to the brilliant interplay between his acoustic guitar, longing harmonica and emotion-dripping vocals on the excellent SanSoucie/Leik co-write, “Broken Down Heart.”
Falling in Place is a decidedly mature record that documents a dynamic and still-emerging artist’s ongoing personal transformation in a world filled with new-found love for his music, merriment, soulmate and, perhaps most importantly, self. SanSoucie states in “Whoisme,” the infectiously-hummable closing number, that, “It can take thirty years to get things right… I can only be who I am/I can only try to do the best I can.” If Falling in Place offers any indication of SanSoucie’s artistic direction, he appears to be doing just fine.
Key Tracks: “Rocks”
“Broken Down Heart”