The years have only been kind to the album considered David Ackles' masterpiece when it was released. Ackles combined an early-'70s singer/songwriter sensibility with a theater music background that placed him as much in the tradition of Brecht-Weill and Jacques Brel as Bob Dylan. Not only are his songs fully realized, dramatic statements, but Ackles proves himself a warm, accomplished singer. When this album got no higher than #167 in the charts, Ackles' fans were heartbroken. Decades later, American Gothic remains one of those great albums that never found its audience. It waits to be rediscovered.
Ackles' self-titled debut LP introduced a singer/songwriter quirky even by the standards of Elektra records, possibly the most adventurous independent label of the 1960s. Ackles was a pretty anomalous artist of his time, with a low, grumbling voice that was uncommercial but expressive, and similar to Randy Newman's. As a composer, Ackles bore some similarities to Newman, as well in his downbeat eccentricity and mixture of elements from pop, folk, and theatrical music. All the same, this impressive maiden outing stands on its own, though comparisons to Brecht/Weill (in the songwriting and occasional circus-like tunes) and Tim Buckley (in the arrangements and phrasing) hold to some degree too. This is certainly his most rock-oriented record, courtesy of the typically tasteful, imaginative Elektra arrangements, particularly with Michael Fonfara's celestial organ and the ethereal guitar riffs (which, again, recall those heard on Buckley's early albums).
American Gothic is an American horror series created by Shaun Cassidy and executive producer Sam Raimi. The show first aired on CBS on September 22, 1995, and was cancelled after a single season on July 11, 1996. The story takes place in the fictional town of Trinity, South Carolina, and revolves around Caleb Temple (Lucas Black) and the town's corrupt sheriff, Lucas Buck (Gary Cole). Though appearing affable and charismatic, Sheriff Buck is a murderous rapist whose power base is backed by apparent supernatural powers, which he generally uses to manipulate people to "fulfil their potential" and make life-changing choices (usually for evil).
From his poignant liner notes, David Benoit would have us believe that the wide range of styles he delves into on the majestic American Landscape will take us on an adventure completely new in the pianist's catalog, but it simply expands upon the unique themes he introduced on 1994's Shaken Not Stirred, one of his best ever. These include his expansion into orchestral music, which grew out of his budding film score career: the dusty Western flavors of the title track "American Landscape," for example, actually evolved from of an unused demo for a Kevin Costner movie. The song includes the brilliant touches of Tommy Morgan's harmonica and the swelling London Symphony Orchestra, which dances here not with wolves, but in and around Eric Marienthal's funky sax. The melancholy orchestral intro to "A Personal Story" sounds like it should accompany scenes of heartbreak, but then Benoit throws a curve, easing into a lively trio date.
David Benoit, (born August 18, 1953) is an American jazz fusion/contemporary jazz pianist, composer and producer from Los Angeles, California. He has been nominated for five Grammy Awards. In addition to his current smooth jazz career, Benoit is also music director for the Asian American Symphony Orchestra.
The CD contains soothing jazz piano music that is great for listening alone or when caught in traffic. Will calm your nerves down. Great piano chords by David Benoit.