CD Review - Vandaveer's 'Divide & Conquer'
"Divide & Conquer"
Kindred spirits: Nick Drake, Richard Thompson, Vetiver
Show: Thursday at Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. Show starts at 6 p.m. 202-467-4600. http:/
Like any folk singer worth his weight in harmonica holders, Vandaveer has spent some time borrowing from the library.
Chief among the checked-out tomes: The Bible. The breathy Dylanesque folk tunes that make up "Divide & Conquer," the D.C.-based songwriter's second record, are rife with imagery cribbed from Testaments both Old and New. There are sacred virgins, leviathans and a prodigal child. "I want to meet Resurrection Mary/Stand before God/Speak in tongues/Hear her stories," he whispers on "Resurrection Mary."
The Good Book isn't the only one on Vandaveer's nightstand, either. Vandaveer reps the Ramona Quimby series during "Beverly Cleary's 115th Dream," a tender piano ballad, and lifts a title from William Faulkner on the bleak and blustery "The Sound & the Fury."
Extensive touring behind his first record, "Grace & Speed," has helped the singer strengthen his songwriting and bump up his street cred. A few years ago he was just a Donovan-loving vagabond dandy working the local clubs. On "Divide & Conquer," however, he has worked himself into a world-weary wayfaring minstrel with shoe-leather vocal cords.
-- Aaron Leitko