For someone who plays the acoustic guitar and occasionally punctuates his songs with a blast of harmonica, Dave Allen is refreshingly uncomplicated as a songwriter. Even the title of his album, "Just Be Friends," bespeaks simplicity of style, an easy manner and a folk/country flavor that Allen gives to what are mostly positive pop ballads.
Like Tom T. Hall and a few others, Allen can wear his heart on his sleeve and get away with it. Somehow he prevents songs like "Things I Love Are Free" -- i.e., "morning stars, sweet guitars" -- and "Front-Page News" ("we're having a baby / and that's Front-Page News / to this singer and his wife") from sounding insufferably cute. And his better songs, the love-torn title track and "Sweet Linda-Lou," are likely to stay with you for some time.
Of course, it helps that Allen is backed by a half-dozen fine musicians on this album, among them Mike Auldridge, whose steel guitar and dobro are typically subtle and graceful. But even when singing the broken- hearted "Silver Men" all alone at the close of the album, in a sort of weary baritone, Allen proves himself a local talent who bears watching, and hearing. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM DAVE ALLEN -- Just Be Friends (H.E.R. Records DRAMA01). THE SHOW DAVE ALLEN, Friday and Saturday at Quincy's in Arlington.