Autumn Day – Dave Katz
Sweet ‘n’ Sticky Records 403
You might recognize Dave Katz as keyboardist, vocalist and cofounder of
Ohio’s ekoostik Hookah, but after a listen to his excellent solo album,
Day, you will certainly recognize Katz’s songwriting as a cornerstone of the
much-lauded jamband’s impressive existence.
Hookah has traveled a long road, living a grassroots existence just below
radar, but undeniably alive. Within the band, Katz plays the yin to
vocalist Ed McGee’s yang, sitting back behind the keys or
strumming the occasional guitar in a manner that is as passive as it is
forceful. Over the nine tracks compiled on Autumn Day, his talents
guitarist, vocalist and songwriter appear aglow, serving to cast a spotlight
his talents and ultimately divine his presence in ekoostik Hookah’s
Mostly, Autumn Day drifts through familiar waters, flowing with the
currents of acoustic Americana. But in contrast to the meandering jams that
fill Hookah’s body of work, the emphasis falls deftly on Katz’s lyrical
explorations ands hook-laden organic melodies. More times than not, the pure
definition of Katz doesn’t lie in either his marginally insightful lyrics or
simplistic song structure, but shines because these elements form an
impressive pairing, his words riding perfectly on the delicately strummed
tones from his guitar.
"Peace of Mind" draws on an echoing, Indian-themed verse before slipping
into a prominent chorus elevated by Katz’s searing organ work. The Hookah
crew, sans McGee, join Katz for the hillbilly stomp of "Sheepdog" while "You
and I" – boasting only the musician and a guitar – reveal the most
intriguing lyrics of the album. Autumn Day is topped off by "A
a Katz-penned Hookah track recorded live by the band last May at their
biannual festival, Hookahville. And, while it stands as a fair
of the band, it steals some of the glory from the album.
Autumn Day is, for Dave Katz, exactly what solo albums are meant to
an outlet just for him. It is a study of his strengths as a musician, and in
turn, an illustration of his personality within the context of his band.
Only in the inclusion of the final, full-band track does the momentum of the
album falter, and it does so in a slight way, a mere stumble in
an otherwise worthy stride. Ultimately, Katz’s steadfast skill and colorful
personality flows over the well-played melodies like a bronzed leaf floating
through autumn’s first breeze.