About David Poe
“The band had been playing for awhile and we were having fun onstage” says musician David Poe on the making of his new record, Love Is Red. “After a European tour, we found ourselves in this makeshift recording studio inside a Berlin bunker during the coldest winter in German history . It was dark and we were cold, but there some nice microphones.”
“And so,” he grins, “ we set out to make the saddest record ever made.”
Poe has already released two critically-acclaimed records: his self-titled debut, produced by T-Bone Burnett and The Late Album (both Sony/Epic.) But with little more adornment than acoustic guitar, the peerless rhythm section of drummer Sim Cain and John Abbey and his singular voice echoing underground, Poe’s latest effort makes the best case yet for his formidable songwriting skills.
Love Is Red captures the arc of a typical live set. It opens with the jazzlike “You’re The Bomb,” an extended metaphor: “You’re the bomb, they made you up in secret … you’re the bomb, you’re my Manhattan Project … without warning, without a sound, you hit the ground.” Poe’s knack for bittersweet pop kicks in on “So Beautiful,” followed by the lilting bossa nova of the album’s title cut, and then “Wilderness,” a lyrical epic which postulates, among other things, “if the trees are the lungs of the world, the city is her cigarette … you are clean, quiet as snow, darker than a forest … you are my wilderness.”
Transplanted to Manhattan from the American Midwest, Poe ran the soundboard for CBGB’s Gallery before signing to Sony/Epic in 1997. His self-titled debut was produced by the legendary T-Bone Burnett (Elvis Costello, O Brother! Where Art Thou soundtrack) and featured longtime collaborator Sim Cain on drums, bassist John Abbey and guest guitarist Marc Ribot.
Songs like “Moon,” the surreal “Silver Eyelashes” and the unusual family story recounted in “Reunion” made David Poe an instant critics darling, if not a pop star. But after scoring a minor hit with the contemplative “Blue Glass Fall” the angelic crooner with the caustic wit spent the next few years finding his way around the world in support of Tori Amos, Beth Orton, The Jayhawks, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Chris Whitley, Glenn Tilbrook, Vanessa Carlton, Lloyd Cole, Golden Smog and many more.
“David Poe gives the singer-songwriter genre a much-needed jolt,” wrote Rolling Stone of his award-winning first effort. And Time Out! New York called Poe “the perfect man,” making it easier for him to meet women.
If he was exploring the mystery of pop, The Late Album was his searchlight. A sprawling masterpiece recorded on the fly between tours of North America, Europe and Japan, Poe’s second record received rave reviews around the world. “A sophisticated city breed, “ wrote Q magazine. “Articulate accounts of edgy situations are Poe’s forté, his breathy voice and jaunty strum often disguising some acidic lines.”The NME said, “Poe likes to shade his confessionals and storytelling with beautiful, lush, guitar-underpinned music.”
In the meantime, Poe formed a band with fellow songwriters Duncan Sheik, Morgan Taylor, pianist Fil Krohnengold and drummer Matt Johnson that will debut in 2006. He also produced recordings for Kraig Jarret Johnson (of The Jayhawks and Golden Smog), Jenifer Jackson and Regina Spektor. Poe spent much of 2004 performing and organizing concerts in an effort to change America’s leadership that registered hundreds of new voters and is now is helping to launch Live At The Artists Den, a media company which aims to connect established and emerging artists of quality to their audience.
But for now, Poe is happiest to sing and write about the sad stuff. Just don’t call him a singer/songwriter. “We’re not folkies. The songs are not autobiographies. The shows are still a party. And there were no robots involved in the making of this record. This is rock and roll.”
“Love is Red” will be released in North America by The Lab (Universal) in the summer of 2005.