Written by James Killen

DSC03281On recommendation of my friend Charles Bryant, I made the trek through late rush hour traffic to JP Hops House on Highway 6last Wednesday to catch a performance by David and Alyson Fahl. Wednesdays are soup night at the Hops House and the opening entertainment this evening was provided by an abbreviated version of the Hard Times Troubadours (several of the usual members being out of town).

David Fahl is a prolific Americana songwriter, having over 350 songs to his credit. He is accompanied by his wife, Alyson on piano and on this evening, Jeff Hoofard on percussion. David’s songs range from philosophical, to humorous, to tender love songs. His writing style is witty and poignant and displays a highly intelligent mind through words and music. Although he occasionally throws in a cover song here and there, the majority of his set is spent on original compositions.

When David took the stage he wore a deadpan visage that I have only seen on one other performer, that being James McMurtry. They started the set off with the apocalyptical, “Battle of New Jericho”. From there he moved on to “The Girls in Their Summer Dresses” about waiting through cold dark days of winter for the lighter, happier summertime. That was followed by a philosophical discussion that had been written out in verse and put to music called “One Way or Another”. It depicted two people (per David) sitting in Opie Hendrix’s back yard saying that they were bound to change the world with their lives either for the good or the bad. Next in line was a love song called “Dream about You” that featured an excellent performance by Alyson on the ivories.

As the set progressed, David’s deadpan look began to crack with an occasional wry smile as if he were working on some prankish joke. The joke erupted to the surface with the performance of “Waiting for the President” about hanging around the White House and snooping through the president’s private possessions, while waiting for him to get home. They followed that with another love song, a cover of Adrienne Young’s “My Love Will Keep”. Mr. Fahl’s stage presence grew warmer still as he introduced, “Nothing’s Gonna Happen” in which he beamed that it was a story in which the songwriter wins.

DSC03286David and Alyson began to exchange grins as if they were now sharing a joke and a personal connection as they performed “Be There, Too”, another love song full of beautiful imagery. David introduced “My Uncle Stumpy”, a song about a careless user of power tools losing appendages, as one of the songs to be included on a children’s album that they wouldn’t want to listen to in front of their parents. The trio followed that with “According to You” and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Queen Jane, Approximately”.

David followed that with “The Fear”, which reminded me of something that Ray Wylie Hubbard might have written and “Here in Paradise” which was an excellent example of Fahl’s wry wit. Then came the hilariously inappropriate, “Easy Women Polka”.

The band performed “her Boyfriend’s Shirt” before closing out the set with “Close my Eyes” which is a very pretty song full of loving imagery.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show, watching David gradually reveal the performance that he had planned. The bond between him and Alyson was thematic throughout the set. The songs were full of wit and humor and imagery. If you get the chance, you should catch them live or pick up a couple of David’s CD’s to see what he has to say.