By Megan Routledge.
Those that have witnessed a Dave Wells performance are privy to the beguiling power of this most rare of musicians, whose command of both voice and guitar captivates to the point of transcendency.
While his full-band shows are a must-see, there’s an otherworldly majesty and emotive force at work when Wells is alone on stage with his six-stringed instrument. Wells, who has been quietly making music with world-renowned producer and engineer Nick DiDia at his prestigious Byron Bay studio. There’s whispers of a dark, acoustic record that tips its hat to sonically sparse recordings like Bruce Springsteen’s seminal Nebraska. There’s also rumours of an emotive new record of full-band alt-rock songs. News of Wells’ growing recorded catalogue will soon emerge, with plans afoot to drop a new single and solo record, accompanied by plenty of touring. DiDia heard Wells perform live and acoustic on ABC national radio and reached out to the Hunterbased artist.
“I received an email from DiDia to say he had caught the performance via ABC Radio and was really impressed,” Wells explains. “The email also read ‘you mentioned having some new songs that you’d like to record. Would love to have a coffee if you’re ever up around Byron [Bay] way.’” This contact, from a world-renowned studio mastermind, meant a great deal to Wells.
“He (DiDia) doesn’t know this, but as a passionate songwriter and someone who’s inspired by the brilliant array of artists that Nick has recorded with, it was an extremely surreal and humbling experience to receive that affirmation from him,” Wells enthuses.
“It’s something that rarely happens in this industry and I feel very fortunate. From there, I sent him a heap of demos and we brainstormed the best approach to capture the new works.” Wells travelled to Byron Bay to record with Philadelphia native DiDia, whose resumé as a producer and engineer speaks for itself – Bruce Springsteen, Rage Against the Machine, Something For Kate, Pearl Jam and Powderfinger, to name but a drop in the ocean of DiDia’s show reel.
After the epic and, at times, gruelling journey to craft his own self-titled debut record, a sonically rich and elaborate opus of which Wells was the sole creative custodian, this was also an opportunity to engage with another’s ideas. “Working with Nick was a great experience,” Wells says. “It felt more like a creative collaboration rather than trying to relinquish creative control. The studio felt like home and the process became a natural and creatively expressive exploration. We took a live, simplistic approach that focused purely on the uniqueness, emotive character and sonic delivery of each song.” There’s no question that Wells’ storytelling tackles grand themes, situations and characters that speak to the very essence of our shared humanity, always painted in succinct empathetic strokes. It takes a musical talent with the range and depth of Wells’ to do such stories justice.
The past three years have seen many a musical train leave the tracks. But Wells is back on the rails with a head full of steam.
Don’t forget to buy your ticket.
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