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David Mead
INDIANA
(Nettwerk)
Stars graphics

Three albums into his career, New York (via Tennessee) singer-songwriter David Mead may be getting frustrated that more people donít know who he is. What else would explain the fourth track on Indiana, a transparent attempt at pop crossover called "Beauty" that smothers his usual understated charm in a radio-ready arrangement thatís all sheen and no personality? Fortunately, the rest of the disc is far more typical. Warm, wistful, and immaculately played (kudos to David Henry for his gorgeous cello and brass parts), the best songs match perceptive lyrics with melodies that seem effortless, warranting favorable comparisons to Freedy Johnston and Ron Sexsmith. As the titles "Nashville," "New Mexico," and "Queensboro Bridge" suggest, Meadís characters are all over the map, but usually the transit they find themselves in is more emotional than physical. The heartache lying just beneath their words is conveyed by Meadís high wisp of a voice; when his singing edges into a falsetto, as on the playful "Oneplusone," you can almost taste the honey. Even a surprise cover of Michael Jacksonís "Human Nature" works, as Mead gives the song a bemused reading thatís pleasantly devoid of sentimentality.

(David Mead appears Saturday June 26 at the Paradise Lounge, 969 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston; call 617-562-8814.)

BY MAC RANDALL


Issue Date: June 11 - 17, 2004
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