Fables (Thirty Tigers)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Sept. 4, 2015
David Ramirez's 2012 LP, Apologies, clenched lonely, bruising regret while grasping for some sense of redemption. Fables now turns the local songwriter's pointed confessions toward the self-deluding stories that slowly absorb truth and perspective, from the street-smart awareness of opening "Communion" to the swelling artist determination of closer "Ball and Chain." Ramirez never veers into sentimentality, whether in relationships ("Harder to Lie," "On Your Side") or in life ("New Way of Living," "Rock and a Hard Place"). He's also grown more comfortable and mature with both his vulnerably quaking tenor and detailed narratives. At his best, there's the potential of his labelmate Jason Isbell without the concreteness of vision. Still, only the feral, haunting moans of "Wild Bones" feel misplaced, while the uptempo "That Ain't Love" plays with a young Springsteen restlessness. All the answers aren't in yet, but David Ramirez keeps asking all the right questions.