Imposter by Dave Gahan & Soulsavers album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions

Sony Music

7.4

Dave Gahan & Soulsavers

Imposter

There are few voices as iconic in the modern music pantheon as Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode. While the writing credits for Depeche Mode weigh much more heavy on the side of Martin Gore, Dave Gahan has been stepping out from under the DM umbrella more and more in recent years, with his religiously under-toned backing band, the Soul Savers. His latest album offering, Imposter, a self-ironic title of an album, finds him digging deep into the American, nay the World Song Book, and providing his takes on some of the greatest (and darkest and most honest) songs ever written.

If you’re expecting the synthy gut-punch Depeche Mode and Dave Gahan is usually known for, you will be sorely disappointed with this offering, though each track recalls DM’s dreamfully dark arrangements. But mostly it is the lyrics of the album and the faithful-to-the-original covers, with the Soul Savers’ precise rock and roll and background gospel choir, that carry the load on this twelve track cover album.

It is a fair mix of older singers, like Elvis and Nat King Cole and Elmore James, classic rockers, still on the performance circuit, like Neil Young and Bob Dylan, and modern rockers, who are known for their soulful compositions, like PJ Harvey and Cat Power. Like the title of the record suggests, it is the darkness and heaviness of living an authentic life of love in a mostly broken world that ties all of the song choices together. Songs like “The Desperate Kingdom of Love,” and “Shut Me Down,” show a soul that is aching for a connection, perhaps what you could call “divine,” that doesn’t come easily.

As Gahan has clearly learned from his time with Depeche Mode, there is perhaps something more true to the human experience and something more of a salve in a difficult world in a “Black Celebration,” than in innocent, starry-eyed love songs alone. As a big Depeche Mode fan, it is a bit of a let down for me, to hear the songs fall so much in the clean rock category, and utilize so little of the modern rock feel that DM helped pioneer. But the deep feeling is still there, especially in Gahan’s deep-feeling and resonant voice.

It is the journey of the song choices placed together in one album by Gahan that is particularly moving. He picked songs that share two common traits: they have lyrics that touch the wayward soul and they are all sung by people that are quintessentially “moving” singers. Like Gahan said, “There’s not a performer on the record who I haven’t been moved by.” It is a solid if not particularly “modern” offering of an album. Let David Gahan’s moving voice and the arrangements of twelve of the greatest songs in the World Song Book wash over you and see if you too don’t feel like an imposter, lucky for the grace of a story well-told and a song well sung.

order Imposter Dave Gahan and the Soulsavers HERE