It was back in 2014 that Blabber’n’Smoke last encountered David latto when we reviewed his band’s last EP. The David Latto Band were up and coming in the UK Americana scene with a fine album already under their belt but soon after, Latto kind of disappeared. According to the man, he had hit some kind of creative wall which led to him taking a couple of years out. Working away from the music scene for a couple of years, he was eventually tempted to dip his toes in the water again with a brace of new songs which veered away from the alt country he was known for, being of a more personal songwriter persuasion.
Re-establishing his presence via live gigging over the past two years, Latto now has the first fruits of his recent labours on show in this five song EP. It’s a polished affair, sometime a bit too polished for ears more accustomed to a rootsier approach but there’s no denying Latto’s songwriting skills and his warm honeyed voice. He opens with the title song, a shimmering confection of jangling guitars which strays a little bit too far into pop territory for this reviewer with its soaring chorus, although a close listen to the words reveals a song which is packed with emotional pain and, at times, despair as Latto sings of being, “A dead man walking.” We’re much more comfortable with the pedal steel layered lament of Blood & Whiskey and the feather light tones of Haunt Me which features some excellent percussion. Better Ways avoids the pitfalls of the opening song although sharing many of its sentiments. There’s some gritty guitar midway and the polished finish does just what it’s supposed to do, showcase an excellent song. Losing You closes the disc with a flourish as Latto, still somewhat despairing, harnesses the full power of his musicians and Mally Smith’s excellent backing vocals on a song which builds to a grand climax with a powerful percussive drive and soaring electric guitar. It’s a song which strives for greatness and, with its hints of Prefab Sprout and even U2, it could achieve that if it got onto enough radio playlists. All in all, a welcome return for this songwriter from Fife.
Show Me How To Feel was released at the end of October but there’s a live launch gig next Saturday, 30th November, at Brig Below in Edinburgh with vinyl copies of the EP on sale. Details here.