A Review of The Severe Angels

There are many singer songwriters who are influenced by the music they have come to know and love.  Unfortunately, there are few who know how to take these influences and make them their own.  

Dave Ihmels is one songwriter who does not have a problem with creating a song, turning a lyric, and weaving melodies of songs he has heard all of his life, without making them a subliminal simulacra. 
This outing starts with the song “Walk Out”.  It definitely puts you in the 21st century and has haunting harmonies that were very popular in early Rock and Roll, but seldom heard today. My impression of the song was the Everly Brothers meet Techno.  This song was a strong enough opener to keep me listening to the end.

“Sulamith”.  This song has finely layered textures of percussion.  It sort of reminds me of Paul Simon when he was on top of his game.

“A Murder of Crows” finds Dave singing in a lower and darker subject matter, ala Leonard Cohen, who by the way is one of my favorite songwriters.

“Rubber Mask”, has an unforgettable melody.  The song is Euro pop with a nod to Irish music.  I could see The Pogues performing this song.

The next two songs could very well be the hooks of the whole collection.  

“High-Voltage Touch” has everything I love about the 1980’s.  At the same time it still captures the Indie spirit of today’s young people’s music.  I heard hints of Crowded House (not too shabby) and a heavy dance beat, reminiscent of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”.

“I Am The Moon” could very well be the title song of this album.  This song would be the one most likely to get heavy rotation on XM Sirius and other Indie College stations.  Although it’s not my personal favorite, it’s very commercial.

“Look Through My Eyes With Me” is a pleasant and fun Folk Rock song.  I loved this song and this style of music.  It puts me in mind of Fairport Convention and other stars of the coffee house era.  Keep in mind I am dating myself, simply by my reminiscence of this type of music.

That takes us to “Otto”.  “Otto” is the funkiest song of this collection.  The Dylanesque lyrics are underlined by psychedelic guitar and a veteran like myself can’t help but hear the fun packed rollicking of The Monkees melodies and phrasing.

“Prince Eugene” skips down the same fun path as “Otto”, but it is more narrative.

“Wires”.   “Wires” is the most folky of this entire outing.  But then again, it can never get too folky for this old Greenwich Village dweller.  I am a sucker for songs that change modes from the minor to major.

And finally, “I’m Not Not Tryin'". It’s very reminiscent of The Magical Mystery Tour.  Fans of The Beatles would probably be the only ones to make that correlation.

It is apparent to me that Dave has travelled down the same musical roads as myself and other peers and like all songwriters, uses what they learned as a muse for their own creativity. This collection of songs should hold the attention of the listeners.  This collection is slightly eclectic, but Dave has a style that weaves a common thread throughout his songs from beginning to end.  I personally would recommend this album to anyone who wants more from their listening repertoire than hip hop or the same, same, same Nashville robotic trend.

Billy Hancock
October 2015