Ringmaster General

The Ringmaster General

by Dave Stewart
     
 

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Dave Stewart is a gifted musical collaborator, but he has the ego of a major star, which means he insists on taking the spotlight whether it's a good idea or not. He's also ambitious and full of ideas, which is good when he's working with someone who can use a push in the right direction, but if Stewart has no one around to give him bearings, he has a tendency to bite

Overview

Dave Stewart is a gifted musical collaborator, but he has the ego of a major star, which means he insists on taking the spotlight whether it's a good idea or not. He's also ambitious and full of ideas, which is good when he's working with someone who can use a push in the right direction, but if Stewart has no one around to give him bearings, he has a tendency to bite off more than he can chew stylistically, which is how he can go from the sublime pop perfection of his work in the Eurythmics to the ridiculousness of his ill-fated supergroup SuperHeavy. The Ringmaster General is a sequel of sorts to Stewart's 2011 solo album The Blackbird Diaries; like the earlier album, this one was written and recorded during a five-day blowout at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, with Stewart leading a crack band of studio cats and bringing in some talented acquaintances to do guest vocals (among them Alison Krauss, Jessie Baylin, and his SuperHeavy partner Joss Stone). The results reveal Stewart's strengths and weaknesses in equal measure; he has a knack for writing a good pop tune, he knows how to get musicians to deliver the goods in the studio, and he's a strong guitar player. However, as a lead vocalist he's average at best, his idea of a good arrangement usually leans to the bombastic, and while this album is supposed to celebrate his love of roots music, his country and R&B leanings here invariably sound forced. On several tunes, Stewart seems to think the best way to make a song sound soulful is to let the backing vocalists get as happy as they want, which makes the opener, "I Got Love," and the closer, "A New Song for Nashville," sound as if they were recorded at a suburban blues bar with several drunk women in the audience intrusively yelling into the mike. Stewart also isn't much of a lyricist, and most of these songs are pockmarked with clichés and clumsy wordplay that find Stewart trying to celebrate his cool factor and status as a world-class Lothario. For an album that came together in less than a week, The Ringmaster General sounds assured, professional, and polished, all without squeezing the life out of the performances, and the picking from Stewart and his band is splendid throughout. But while Stewart the producer and bandleader earned his paycheck on The Ringmaster General, they should have told Stewart the songwriter and lead singer that he needed to finish his homework before trundling this material into the studio, since the latter guy's work is the anchor that sinks this particular session.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/04/2012
Label:
Surfdog Records Ada
UPC:
0640424999377
catalogNumber:
530471
Rank:
110770

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Dave Stewart   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Chad Cromwell   Percussion,Drums
Dan Dugmore   Banjo,Lap Steel Guitar
Kim Fleming   Background Vocals
Bobby Keys   Saxophone
Wendy Moten   Background Vocals
Michael Rhodes   Bass
Mike Rojas   Accordion,Keyboards,Wurlitzer
Tom Bukovac   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Amy Keys   Background Vocals
Ann Marie Calhoun   Violin
Sarah Buxton   Background Vocals
Drea Rhenee   Background Vocals
Judith Hill   Background Vocals
Hillary Lindsay   Background Vocals
Jed Hughes   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Dave Stewart   Composer,Producer
Mike Bradford   Producer
Ned Douglas   Engineer
Martin Huch   Artwork
John McBride   Engineer
Jessie Baylin   Composer
Mitch Schneider   Publicity
Kevin Tetreault   Layout

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