BD Gottfried’s Onion Doves is a throwback in some respects. Some may slap other labels on the album’s thirteen songs, but I hear a largely progressive rock album harkening back to the sound of 80’s-90’s synthesizer and keyboard fueled acts. Echoes of that era abound. There is a large singer/songwriter presence throughout the collection, however; Gottfried isn’t writing “boy meets girl” tracks, but nor is he regaling listeners with Jon Anderson-inspired flights of pseudo-poetic fancy. Gottfried, instead, strikes a happy balance between the two and writes with seldom seen intelligence and even literary distinction.
You’ll find him making creative use of literary devices during the song’s title track. The image of an “onion dove” is indistinct, or perhaps surreal, at first investigation. Gottfried’s song, however, soon finishes off the image for listeners. Gottfried has crafted an arrangement full of the light and shadow demanded by such a theme but it never bogs down in its own self-importance.
Much of the song’s success is due to the momentum generated by the opening trio of tracks. “Truth, Such a Rarity” plunges listeners directly into the heart of his vivid musical imagination. Later tracks are fuller and more ambitious, perhaps, but it’s difficult to imagine a better introduction than this track. Its mid-tempo rotation, keyed by classically-flavored piano runs, seems to spiral upwards as the song moves and raises listeners with them.
“Bathing With The Sinners” moves in a very different way. It has a much more downcast turn, but a second vocal backing Gottfried’s sweetens the mournful quality in his voice. The drum sound is especially strong here; building the tracks around electronic percussion helps further unify the collection’s sound. “Comic Book Messiah” is a title reflecting the powerful songwriting imagination behind Onion Doves. Gottfried is very good at finding the right imagery to convey his points as a lyricist and this is one of the better songs on this effort. The cumulative effect produced by these three tracks makes the title song one heck of a payoff for listeners.
“Followers of Disarray” is one of the more interesting tunes on Onion Doves. It dispenses with the typical compositional layout Gottfried uses for many songs in favor of a more varied take. There are several twists built into “Followers of Disarray” listeners won’t expect and the instrumental nuance places it on another level as well. The remainder of the release is more eclectic. Songs such as “Romancers of the Dark” harkens back to the album’s earliest tracks, but the instrumentals “Dance of the Serpent Queen” and closer “Neuropsychopharmacology Jello” take listeners in unexpected directions.
They share the same musical identity, however, despite the lack of vocals. “Earth and Air”, though, is perhaps the album’s grandest moment. BD Gottfried and his collaborators pull out all the stops with this one creating an indelible personal and musical statement reflecting some of the songwriter’s deepest held convictions. The song’s video is an equally powerful visual statement deriving its power from the stark truths it portrays and our familiarity with many of the photos selected. BD Gottfried has written and recorded one of 2021’s most important musical documents with Onion Doves and has good reason to be proud of this for the rest of his life.
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