Richmond VA’s David Schultz departs from his bare bones debut with Sinner’s Gold, adding a full band and much more ambition this time around. With this record, Schultz also decided to do something that most will find utterly obnoxious: make an album that has to grow on you.
Initially, Sinner’s Gold couldn’t keep my attention. It could have been the assembly line of folk-rock melodies or the occasional abrasive chorus from Schultz (the opening track “Free” comes to mind). But, if you find yourself having to listen to Sinner’s Gold over and over again – say, you’re writing a review – you find yourself in a treasure chest of nuance and subtlety.
“Natural” is a soft and powerful song and one that displays Schultz’s lyrical and vocal talent, which seems to channel the emotional, heavily-annunciated vocals of Isaac Brock of the Lonesome Crowded West era. “Can’t Can’t” is the perfect companion for long, lonely drives through America’s farm country, and “Branches” brings a much-needed electric jolt to the disc.
However, people will probably be turned off by the fact that they have to dig to get mileage out of this album. Sure, there are great moments on Sinner’s Gold, but you have to wade through boring, monotonous beats and over-done, campfire acoustic guitar lines to get there. Tracks like “Wooden Floors” and “The Key” are easily forgettable and are best suited for David Gray fans (if they decided to come out of their caves and enter the public sphere), but discerning listeners who can sense Schultz’s talent will tug at their hair in frustration.
Schultz and the Skyline teeter on the brink of experimenting with fantastic harmonies and instrumentation, but always end up playing it safe when all is said and done. I would recommend giving Sinner’s Gold a listen, if only for the sake of saying that you were into David Schultz before he cracks open his potential on the next record.