“Berkeley crafts his songs like watercolor paintings. Intimate and introspective, his gentle yet colorful melodies are graceful and resonate long after the last note fades.” – Creative Loafing
David Berkeley’s gift as a songwriter and storyteller is that he sees the tragedy and comedy in life, writing songs capable of both breaking and healing the heart. Berkeley has been called a “musical poet,” by the San Francisco Chronicle, and the New York Times praises his “lustrous, melancholy voice with shades of Tim Buckley and Nick Drake.” That voice and his gift with words is what first sets Berkeley apart from all other guitar-slinging songwriters. But it is his onstage charisma and unparalleled between-song repartee that truly puts him in a class by himself. Each show is completely unique, and David’s humanity shines through every note he sings and every word he speaks. Berkeley has released seven studio albums, one live album, and authored two books, each of which pairs with one of his albums. He was a guest on This American Life,telling an outrageous story of a private serenade he was once hired to perform, and he has won many songwriting awards and honors including ASCAPs Johnny Mercer Songwriting Award. His 2017 release was a never-before tried concept: a novella comprising ten intertwining stories and an album of ten accompanying songs (one for each story). His latest release is Oh Quiet World, an album written during the lockdown. It’s an intimate, uplifting collection that we all should hear.
When Corona numbers spiked, Berkeley and his family left Madrid, where they had been living for the year. They packed in haste, leaving much of what they had acquired over the year behind, and caught one of the final commercial flights out. Though he had planned to leave it behind, David grabbed the old Spanish guitar he had bought in Madrid. It was lucky he did, for he wrote all the songs for his latest release, Oh Quiet World, on that guitar. David and his family self-quarantined in a friend’s empty house near the Rhode Island coast. He set up a makeshift studio in the attic and began writing and recording. “I wrote a song a day that first week back,” Berkeley explains. “Songwriting gave me a way to process my fears, to comfort my kids, my friends, my parents. It gave me something small I could contribute.” The songs are his most stripped back, supported by his wife and children singing, and touches of horns, accordion, and banjo. Despite the hard topic, Oh Quiet World manages to find hope through it all, and it’s an incredible timestamp on a profound moment in our collective histories. The whole album is like a prayer, beginning with the call to “wake up in the early light,” and ending with the word, “amen.”
In addition to his solo career, he is also one half of the wildly creative Trans-Atlantic costumed duo Sons of Town Hall. Berkeley’s music has also been remixed by many of the world’s top EDM DJs. He tours all over the country and world and has opened/toured with Dido, Don McLean, Ben Folds, Billy Bragg, Ray Lamontagne, Nickel Creek and many more. He was a Kerrville New Folk winner, a New Song and Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Finalist. He’s performed on World Café, Mountain Stage, Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, XM Loft Sessions, Acoustic Café, and many more. David lives with his wife and two boys in Santa Fe, New Mexico at 7,200 feet elevation.
“If you're into literate soulful singer songwriters, David Berkeley is the Gabriel García Márquez of beautiful-voiced troubadours.” – KRUU
right click for low res download
All photos by Nicole Moulton