For the past decade, David P. Smith has quietly gone about establishing himself as one of Victoria’s most captivating and original songwriters. His songs, vividly surreal spaces in which the opposing notions of humour and despair manage to mingle, are as confounding as they are beautiful; they challenge us to weep while we laugh and vice versa.
For the first time in three years Smith is taking his ever-growing catalogue of songs to the road as part of a tour, aptly called The Death Ballad Love Tellers Tour, which sees him flanked by two equally gifted songwriters Ben Sures and Bubba Uno.
Just as Smith’s songs merge vastly different emotions into a polished alloy of song, The Death Ballad Love Tellers Tour brings together three radically different approaches to songwriting: not surprisingly, the results have been compelling.
“The shows have been really entertaining so far,” Smith explains. “It’s billed as a songwriters tour, so a lot of people get the mistaken impression that it will be a bunch of guys with acoustic guitars trying to sound like Neil Young: it’s not like that at all. Each of us is very different from a lot of stuff people are used to hearing, and yet we are all different from one another; it makes for an interesting show.”
Indeed, while the songwriters share a seemingly preternatural skill for the craft, their respective approaches to it couldn’t be more varied. Uno’s strange breed of songs, which create a richly complex world comprised of zombies, robots and resurrected serial killers, stand in stark contrast to Ben Sures’ comparatively conventional, though equally idiosyncratic songs which have earned him a spot on CBC’s The Irrelevant Show.
The shows on this tour will be done “in the round,” meaning Smith, Uno and Sures sing just one song at a time before passing the mic to the next. Smith has been playing an assortment of material, both new and old, responding to both the feel of the crowd and the songs Uno and Sures choose to play on any given night.
Victorians are fortunate to be able to catch the tail end of the tour this Saturday night at Discovery Coffee in James Bay. Already, the songwriters have been learning one another’s material well enough to back each other up, and there’s even been some talk about collaborating on an album in the near future. Be sure to stop by Discovery on Saturday night to get a taste of what this record might sound like.