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Dondero's CD Takes Fans 'South of the South'


Singer/songwriter David Dondero was born in Duluth, Minnesota. But the 36 year old has spent so much of his life on the road he doesn't seem to be from anywhere. That drifter sensibility gives Dondero a certain perspective on the people he encounters and the places he passes through. His sixth album is called South of the South. It's a reference to Florida where Dondero had lived for a time. Meredith Ochs has this review.

MEREDITH OCHS, reporting:

Have you ever wished you could erase the past? David Dondero has, and he takes a unique approach to the concept on his new CD. Drag your diary out to the backyard barbeque, douse the pages with lighter fluid, add a match, and presto. Social blunders, bitter disappointments, colossal errors in judgment all gone in a ball of flame.

(Soundbite of song): Make a great big pile and put a match to it. We'll have a journal burning party. Have a journal burning party. Have a journal, we'll get a clean slate, honey, at the journal burning party. We will write it down and then we'll burn it up. We're gonna write it down and then we'll burn it up. We're going page to page, up into flames. We're going page to page up into flames. March 28th, 1993 those words mean nothing to me.

OCHS: David Dondero has plenty of reasons for wanting to incinerate his personal history. It's been riddled with ruthlessness and treacherous relationships, which find their way into his songwriting. Dondero's idea of torch and twang is to dance with his own demons as he transverses the country. Much like another tragic troubadour with whom he's often compared, the late Towns Vansant. But within this murky landscape lies the possibility of redemption and reinvention. Dondero's hopeful lyrics are echoed in the instrumentation of this song as a blithe keyboard brightens a long shadow of a melancholy steel guitar.

(Soundbite of music) Let go of the past and step forward. Let go of your past, my friend. Past will haunt you don't you hurt you. Let go of the past 'til the end, honey. Let go of your past till the end.

OCHS: Lots of singer/songwriters have a penchant for self-immolation, but David Dondero distinguishes himself by adding wry humor and a keen eye aimed at his environs. Listen as his lyrics paint a surreal portrait in this song, capturing the weirdness of coming of age in Florida.

(Soundbite of song): I was just a tender chicken in the Florida rotisserie. My own sweat's basting me. Thunderstorms are chasing me, I bit into a lighting bolt. My own tongue began to smoke. I woke up with an empty mouth. Watched the watch tick backwards. South of the south. The CSX vibrates the tracks. Mighty roar and shakes the shacks. Purple skies and orange moons, plants are confident in June. Humidity is thick, you can cut it with a knife. Would you like to take a breath here, honey? I'm going to cut you out a slice.

OCHS: David Dondero often sounds like he struggles with being a typical guy who is just not capable of living a typical life. It's no wonder he's inclined to burn his journal and reinvent his past. Fortunately for the rest of us, he decided to write songs about it instead.

SIEGEL: Our reviewer is Meredith Ochs. David Dondero's latest CD is South of the South.

(Soundbite of song): Shouldn't leave a lover alone too long. Love will find another then the lover is gone. Find some alone in the setting sun. Going to take a couple of years before the next gong, yeah. If your light is gone, and my love is gone. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Meredith Ochs