Sometimes it's all too evident. You hear an artist for the first time and you know he or she is destined to etch their imprint. That's the case with David Ramirez, whose new album "Fables" is one that plucks at the heartstrings and creates an impression that continues to reverberate long after the music finally fades away.
Ramirez has made other albums before, but this is the first to gain him the kind of attention he's lacked up until now. Having opened for others of his ilk - among them, Noah Gundersen, Gregory Alan Isakov and Joe Pug - he operates in the same terrain, sharing dry, dusty ballads that speak of heartache and heartbreak in ways that are so emotionally honest, there's no doubt as to where they emerged from. It's not surprising to find Gunderson behind the recording console; the two share many similar traits, including the ability to turn even a song of such absolute despair - in this case, "How Do You Get 'Em Back" - into a statement detailing triumph over tragedy.
Not all of "Fables"' songs dwell in such sad circumstance, although Ramirez does seem to invest the majority of his time in bittersweet ballads of the affecting and effective variety. Nevertheless, when he upticks the energy on songs like "Hold On," "Communion" and "That Ain't Love," he ventures into Springsteen territory with his anthemic intentions. He proves as riveting as he is remorseful, giving him a dual purpose that reflects both his command and confidence.
In his bio, Ramirez says he walked away from music for awhile. Let's hope that he avoids doing that again. Indeed, it only takes a single listen to emphasize the fact that "Fables" is a remarkable return, and is one of the best outings of the year thus far. Make no mistake; it's simply that good.