Singer-songwriter-musician David Walters took his first big step into the realm of world music early this when he released his debut album Nocturne. Released Feb. 17 through French record label Heavenly Sweetness, the11-song record – his third studio recording following two EPs released in September and December 2020 — is a mostly positive first full outing for Walters. That is due in large part to the album’s featured musical arrangements, which will be addressed shortly. While the record’s musical content does plenty to make Nocturne enjoyable, the record’s lyrical content proves slightly problematic. This will be addressed a little later. The record’s sequencing works with the songs to make for more appeal. When those two elements are paired, they make the album overall, a presentation that shows at least some hope for his future.
Up-and-coming world music figure David Walters’ debut album (and third overall studio recording) Nocturne is a work that shows at least some hope for this career. That is due in large part to the record’s musical arrangements. The arrangements in question blend elements of various cultures’ influences from one work to the next in order to make whole works. Case in point is the arrangement featured in the album’s early entry, ‘Freedom.’ There is a clear hip-hop influence in this arrangement. It is blended with what wounds like Middle Eastern percussion, Walters’ mostly French lyrical delivery, to make the song stand out. The addition of the cello and almost Flamenco style guitar performance adds even more to the song’s presentation. That whole exemplifies the important result of that noted blending of various cultural influences in its own unique way.
Walter’s performance on ‘Nocturne,’ the album’s mostly instrumental title track/closer, is another example of how this album’s musical arrangements work to make it an interesting presentation. His work on the guitar in this song clearly exhibits its own European musical influence, forming the song’s foundation. One could argue here that there is a touch of classical guitar here, paired with a light flamenco influence. That combination makes for its own share of interest. The percussion and strings that accompany the guitar line and vocals add their own unique touch to the song, giving the song even more of its own unique identity separate from that off ‘Freedom’ and the rest of the album’s entries. It is just one more way in which the record’s musical presentation makes it an interesting new offering from Walters. ‘Baby Go’ is yet another key musical addition to the album.
In the case of ‘Baby Go,’ audiences get a clear American R&B influence performed through Walters’ performance on guitar. At the same time, Walters still manages to slip in a more European influence with his simple performance and his partial French vocal performance. The gentle, subtle addition of the shaker (Latin percussion) against that guitar performance and the string arrangement makes this song’s arrangement yet another unique presentation separate from the rest of the album’s works. When it and the other songs examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s musical presentations, the whole of that content ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment, what with its diversity. While the musical content featured throughout Nocturne goes a long way toward making the album interesting, it does suffer from one negative, that being the aforementioned concern over the delivery of the record’s lyrical content.
The delivery of the record’s lyrical content is problematic because for the most part, Walters delivers said content in French and Creole. This leads to the necessity of translating so much of that content into English, which can be time consuming. Thankfully there is some English lyrical delivery here, such as in ‘Baby Go’ and in part of ‘Freedom.’ The mostly English performed ‘Baby Go’ is clearly one of those slow jam type songs. It finds Walters’ subject telling his woman to “go slow.” It does not take a genius to know what is going on here. In the case of the English content presented near the end of ‘Freedom,’ the statements that “Music is the way/Music for freedom” and that “Music is the weapon” comes across as a statement simply about the power of music. He also notes in English here that there’s “Six million ways to die/Choose one/Six million ways to live/Choose one.” It collectively leads to the supposition that this song is meant to be a commentary about life in general and the healing power of music. This is all just this critic’s interpretation. Add in again, that most of the song is sung in Walters’ native tongue without English translation, and the interpretation gets even more difficult. Again, this is an issue that impacts the majority of the album. Keeping this in mind, the fact that Walters spends so much of his album singing in his native tongue when it is clear he can sing in English is going to limit the album’s appeal to a point. French and Creole speaking American (and other) audiences will easily translate his lyrics, but everyone else is going to need translations. To that end, this aspect detracts from the record’s presentation, but does not make it a failure. The record’s sequencing works with the songs to make up for the issue of the lack of English lyrical translations at least to a point.
As a result of Nocturne’s sequencing, the stylistic approach to the songs changes from one to the next throughout its nearly hour-long presentation. That change in stylistic approach also plays into changes in the songs’ energies from one to the next. From beginning to end, the song’s energies rise and fall, but do so in a clearly controlled fashion even though it does not immediately seem like it on the surface. A close listen reveals that there was a lot of thought put into the album’s sequencing even as abrupt as the changes in the songs’ energies seems. When the engagement that this ensures is considered along with the songs and their arrangements, that whole comes together to make Walters’ new record worth hearing at least once.
David Walters’ debut album Nocturne is an interesting first full outing from the up-and-coming singer-songwriter-musician. Its interest is generated largely through its featured musical arrangements, whose variety is certain to engage and entertain listeners its own right. While the record’s musical content serves its presentation well, its lyrical content proves somewhat problematic. That is because being sung mostly in French, they will limit the record’s appeal in English-speaking nations and any nation in which French is not the primary language. Luckily there are audiences out there even in the United States and elsewhere who speak English, so while this is a limitation, it is not enough to make the album a failure. Keeping that in mind, the record’s sequencing does its own part to make the album appealing. That is because the controlled chaos of the sequencing keeps things changing throughout in terms of the songs’ energies and stylistic approaches. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Nocturne. All things considered, the album proves itself a hopeful start for Walters’ career. The album is available now through Heavenly Sweetness. More information on the album is available along with all of Walters’ latest news at:
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