Labeling Toronto’s David James Allen as just a musician would be a huge disservice. Sure, he is a singer-songwriter to whom you can attach the Americana (or Canadiana if you will) tag, based on his debut album When The Demons Come (2017). But he is also a graphic artist, a DIY record producer, and a poet in his own right.
Yet, it might be his musical side that propels him to get wider attention, and Radiations, his latest album, might just be the one to do that.
The songs that make up Radiations were recorded in 2020, and Allen planned to release them as soon as they were recorded. For reasons that are known to practically everybody on this planet (COVID), the release was delayed, but that just might be the album’s blessing and not its curse. Why?
Because Allen’s songwriting has those elements that make it hard to pinpoint when the songs were actually conceived. Was it the ’90s, ten years ago, or yesterday? That can in a way ensure him that if somebody picks up this album, by intent or accident, ten years from now it will still have that essential quality.
Furthermore, Allen might have that DIY tag attached to his production skills, but throughout Radiations it becomes glaringly obvious that he has those skills honed to a tee. The instrumentation, arrangements, and the way Allen’s voice was recorded (an excellent one at that) ensure that all the best elements of his songwriting stand out.
No, with Radiations Allen doesn’t re-invent the singer-songwriter wheel, but he certainly makes it shine in its best light.