Guest Reviewer: Brad Wheeler, music writer for the Globe and Mail

David Rotundo Band So Much Trouble Dreams We Share

The harp-blowing Canadian singer David Rotundo is associated with a happy kind of blues. His music jumps and jives, shakes and rattles, and almost always rolls. Maybe his smiled mood has something to do with wintering in Mexico, which is something he does.

There’s a cloud over his new album, though. Sure, opening track She’s Dynamite is a hip-shaking affair. Rotundo even laughs at the end of the track. But more often on the mostly original material produced by the acclaimed harmonica player Lee Oskar the vibe is downcast. The CD is called So Much Trouble, the title being our first clue that not everything is sunny and major-keyed in the land of Rotundo.
On Funky Side of Town, he sings that there “ain’t no saints, only sinners / ain’t no winners, only losers / ain’t no ups, only downs.”  So defeatist. So binary!

Elsewhere, Rotundo is Drinking Overtime, he forecasts Hard Times Coming, he’s Too Blue. On I Must Be Crazy he makes like Jay Hawkins (but without the screaming). Somewhere Skip James is telling Rotundo to lighten up, man.
Rotundo is a serviceable singer and his harmonica chops obviously pass the Oskar test. The record sounds great. I might criticize the uninventive lyrics, but then he comes up with a line like this: “Five dollars for some water; nine dollars for a beer / With prices like these, I’m gonna have to sell my own tears.”
Yes, hard times are coming. In fact they’re already here. And yet Rotundo manages to make us smile in the gloom.