Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The first song that you'll hear in David Berkeley's session is the one he chose for you to hear first. He made a request regarding the order that the songs would be featured, sequencing as an artist would for a long-player and as some artists choose to do with these sessions. It's a new song that the Brooklyn songwriter wrote shortly after his son was born and he played it on this day earlier in the year for this reason: "I thought it would be a good one for Daytrotter, if for no other reason than because I love how long Jordan waits before playing his first trumpet note. He holds his horn in ready position for the first minute and a half before he makes a sound. It's intense, and kind of gets people uncomfortable. But what a release when you hear him." We know that Berkeley's talking about his travel companion and trumpeter Jordan Katz, but before we knew that, it was an entertaining thought thinking that Jordan was his son's name and the anticipation that was being worked up, with a "toy" trumpet to the lips in a living room filled with family members and friends ready for a "performance," was at the hands of his little boy and that's all the reason he needed to try out this fresh song. In Berkeley's soft, emotional and precise music and words, he comes across as the kind of doting young father just watching his offspring do whatever it is they get their heart set on tackling - trying to figure out how to tie a shoe, intensely getting corn onto a spoon or fork, or prepping to blow on a horn - and finding all of that time to be the most well-spent hours of his life, hands down. It would be another of what he describes in the love song "Angelina," on his last full-length, "Strange Light," "It's been a good day." These days need no words or acknowledgement. Really, they don't need much and Berkeley specializes in these kinds of days' careful reproductions. He deals with the tales of men struggling to figure out what it all means out there in the cold, cruel world, and where it all fits. He sings, "You're not the only broken man," as if reminding himself and everyone else that there are no islands of misery to put oneself on, nor is there a reason to do so. The songs on "Strange Light," while mostly downtrodden and beat up, are affirming and full of something much more than just mild intrigue. "Measure of A Man," is a big, epic song of massive proportion, starting as a look into the general complexities of mankind before twisting, it seems, into a rumination on faith and man dueling, "And how to weather a storm and not collapse and not get torn/It seems we're both on a road/Drag the tail lights, drag the load/The heaviest load we've shouldered when we've closed all the doors/And realize we've lost so much more/Before you make up your mind/See who's left behind/Day of the dead will dawn/And how to measure a man/Who holds us in his hands." It leaves us battling our instincts, or the imposed instincts and yet we're okay just relying on the murkiness, resigning to the murkiness as a constant brother who will always be around.