David HAERLE, Garden Of Edendale, Edendale Records CD 5001.Sometimes it goes super fast. Almost accidently, we heard the super-fast ‘Finding Natalie’ by a certain David Haerle, as illustrious as he was unknown to us, and that song blew us away from the very start. We immediately sought contact with David. He has lived all his life in Edendale, Los Angeles district, northwest of Downtown LA, home and decor of most of the major movie studios from the pioneer era, the time of the Keystone Cops and the first Charlie Chaplin movie, just before the exodus to Hollywood, by 1920. Haerle seemed to be in the clouds with the interest from tiny Belgium and asked our address, after which, barely a few days later, our mailman rang twice with a giant parcel, clearly too big for our nonetheless generously sized mailbox. There it was, ‘Garden Of Edendale’, the full CD, and, oh boy, they’re always welcome to fly in this way!
The record opens with that highly catchy ‘Finding Natalie‘, a nice old-fashioned west coast rock song, you know, the ones with an intro, middle piece, then working towards a crackling, dazzling fireworks climax through solo’s by Haerle on electric guitar and by the incredible violinist Luanne Homzy (Vitamin String Quartet), while the rhythm section gives it all. A requited outro, in tune with the lyrics, completes the story. Even though the content of the song does not correspond to any of the Nat(h)alies known to us, one can easily identify with the content: a disarming memory of an early love, lost and thus idealized, a love that David hopes to meet again one day to give it closure. Heavenly! And you can experience the song live in the studio, thanks to the cleverly mounted clip, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gWk-h2cKL8 (There is even a video of an alternative solo https: // www .youtube.com / watch? v = l1x2vMYFhCM, which mainly shows why the other solo was chosen)
Now, we know a cartload of CDs with one great song… the remaining being perfectly forgettable. In that case you had not read anything about the record here. But the gut feeling that we were holding a nugget of gold turned out to be true: following ‘Finding Natalie‘ there are twelve songs, not all that volatile, but all equally tempting in their diversity. So all thirteen good (as old compilation LP’s often were called in the Lowlands…) Whether Edendale is a real Garden of Eden, as the title suggests, is yet to be seen, but for David Haerle that is obviously the case. Many of his songs are about Edendale. That is why he says that ‘Garden Of Edendale‘ is a love story: love for rock ‘n’ roll, love for his home and love for the incredible people he knows there. ’I have a crush on this here city / Another perfect LA summer, another day so pretty’ he sings in the semi spoken ‘I Have A Crush‘. Moreover, the songs were recorded in local studios: Sunset Sound and Edendale Studio. The record is therefore rightfully and rightly proudly home grown.
Surprisingly, ‘Garden Of Edendale’ is a debut album, but that’s not how it sounds. Haerle is by no means a rookie. But not only the songs are finished off, the sound is that too. Haerle had assistance from Jose Salazar and Brina Kabler for the production and worked with a number of famous technicians and mixers: Bob Ludwig, Elliot Scheiner (Grammy Award!) and David Bianco, each working with the greatest in rock (we spare you the laundry list!) Nevertheless ‘Garden Of Edendale‘ does not suffer from overproduction or clinical polishing, typical of many west coast records, mainly in the seventies. On the contrary, the album sounds like rock should sound. ‘I Have A Crush‘, ‘Shining Star‘, ‘ Play It Like THE Record‘ and ‘The Tracer‘ swing irrepressibly, while tracks like ‘Always‘ and ‘Women Make The World Go ‘round‘ (in duet with Bess Harrison) at least musically illustrate the sunny side of LA. Somewhere in between one can discover other angles of approach. There’s the slightly mysterious ’The Stranger‘ with the sun rays coming through in the solo, the restrained ‘Do You Know Surrender?‘, the comforting ‘Tell Your Story‘, ‘Glendale‘ (= city in LA County’; it is in this instance the backdrop of a love spell David experienced long ago) ) that has something of a Lou Reed song. There’s the instrumental ‘The Tone That Got Away‘ and the final statement ‘Everything I Ever Wanted‘. After all this, we still think ‘Finding Natalie’ is the most catchy tune, but, it should be clear, ‘Garden Of Edendale‘ convinces in its entirety. We came through the hot summer of 2018 with it. David Haerle clearly did not miss his start. Fans of Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, Peter Case and Jackson Browne will find something here to their liking.