There seems to be no dearth in the department of Americana singer-songwriters but few have the gentle charm and earnest charisma of Cincinnati artist David Wolfenberger. World of the Satisfy'n Place is the follow-up to his critically acclaimed 1999 solo debute, Tales from Thom Scarecrow, continuing his penchant for simple, strong, folksy melodies. And now for a few examples:
Exhibit A: "Bury Me At Ivesdale". Written about his hometown against a rambling, moving rhythm, Wolfenberger easily captures the soul of his childhood, making you long with him for a time past. Piano, acoustic guitar, bass, percussion and banjo accompany you on this sojourn, which is pretty typical of the instrumentation on the rest of the album.
Exhibit B: "The Blade It Cuts Both Ways". With an Appalachian roll and feel similar to that of "Country Death Song" by Violent Femmes, Wolfenberger wrestles with the hypocrisy and evil within each person and the double-edged blade of justice and mercy. With a countrified mixture of folk, bluegrass and alt-country, the tone is set by vignettes such as "Jeffrey Dahmer/ His story, it's well known/ He killed those kids and he ate 'em on his own / Some kind of demon controlled from within / They threw straight in jail for all his heinous sins / And while he's serving out his life / Some killers who hated him stuck him with a knife."
Exhibit C: "Stealin' The Lines". Oboe and piano augment this intoxicating tune that has a wicked chord progression in the bridge and hopeful word play such as "I'm worried less about tomorrow than I was just yesterday."
Exhibit D: "From A Field, July 1975". A beautiful, pining album closer with Neil Young overtones, this song is just Wolfenberger and a piano. The triumphant melody ends the dark album with a clear breath of triumph and hope.
There's also the soft rock 70s feel of "Rainy Weather", the Mark Kozelek infused "Halfway Around the World" and classic pop sensibility of "You and Me and I Am", not to mention the classic story telling songs such as "Paul" and "Fairfax Girl (The Price of Life)." With homespun charm, David Wolfenberger fills World of the Satisfy'n Place with eleven subdued and melancholy tracks that walk the fine line between hope and despair, balancing the spiritual with the intellectual, taking the listener on a dark journey that revels in revealing the spots of light that make the darkness bearable and somehow "satisfy'n."
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, February 2002.