Like an “Old Soul” David: My Review of BEGIN.

Perhaps you can imagine the high I was on, having left the London Games, only to return to the states to be held captive by NBC’s absolutely horrendous coverage of the Olympics this past week. #NBCFail indeed!

Thankfully, the Voice was there to anchor me and keep me up in the clouds with his new album, BEGIN.

And yes, dear readers, I’ve been in the clouds with David, playing BEGIN. on an obsessive loop, on my iPhone, in my car, on my stereo.  I’m ODD in a way I didn’t think would be possible while he’s away on a mission.

BEGIN., his fifth album (or sixth for those who count Glad Christmas Tidings) in four years, captures the right tone and quality of the Voice. Indeed, it’s what I can only call “Old Soul.” Clearly, David is wise beyond his years – both musically and spiritually.

The “Soul David” asserts himself quite strongly in the opening track, Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” (I’m obsessed with the growl heard in the line “the piece is go-o-o-o-n-e…” and the crescendo in “The sun will always, always, shi-i-i-i-i-i-n-e…“), then recedes to an emo sound in “Somewhere Only We Know” (I’m not a big emo fan, which is perhaps why this track is my least favorite, although David still elevates the song beyond the ordinary).

And then The Voice does what it does best: it guts your heart out with that cry and vulnerability detected in his tender tenor, as heard in his rendition of REM’s “Everybody Hurts” – PURE TRANSCENDENCE! I’ll never listen to the original the same ever again, thanks to David’s genius transformation.

Then the “Old Soul” really kicks into gear with Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up” (what pain have you been through, dear David? And does your duet partner Libbie Linton stand in for us, your fans?).  It also washes all over you in Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.”

But the real magic of “Soul David” lets loose in Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” from the gospel opening to the remarkable blend of Art Garfunkel’s folksy sound with all the “soul vocals” he’s perfected since his youthful “Soul Man from Utah” singing days.  Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting to like this rendition so much since it wasn’t my favorite snippet, but the full version justifies the “Old Soul” I hear all over this album.  Now, whenever I’m “down and out,” I’ve got a song to lift my spirits! :)

I will comfort youuuuuuuuuuuuu…

The only thing I would have liked different is if he had added one final vocal crescendo at the end. I’m sure he’ll deliver when he finally performs this live. (Can’t you just imagine?)

From there, we get his masterpiece, an original, “Broken,” sounding like an anthem for “Invisible Children.”

I’m in a place where doing what’s right is soooooo wrong…

What could he possibly mean when singing this? And no sooner do I wonder about his philosophy that he has me abandoning my intellect to focus on the heart:

Heeeeeere’s our wish just to exist…


And then more swooning as he starts with his “whoaaaaaa..”

Dang, David, you done did me in! :P

And you’re not even done yet before you lay on all your falsettos toward the end.

It’s only fair to shore me up after that emotionally harrowing journey to an easy-listening, almost jazzy approach to Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.”  Buoying me up and getting me pumped for the upbeat anthem of U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love).” You should see me bobbing my head while driving as he sings all the “Oh-Oh-Ohs” in this one! :P

And then he closes with his contemplative, inwardly focused “Be Still, My Soul.”

A soothing ending to the pure brilliance captured in this “Old Soul.”

Yes, I definitely get the feeling that BEGIN. is the beginning of David’s discovery of his true Voice and musical identity.

“You are beautiful/ in every single way.”

What a gem! :)

Posted on August 12, 2012, in BEGIN.. Bookmark the permalink. 50 Comments.

  1. As usual hg fantastic review! My fav is broken and don’t give up

  2. I couldn’t agree with your review more, HG. David did a remarkable job on this album. I’m addicted to listening to it too.

  3. Hg, awesome write up, of course, I agree with every single word, but no way would ever be as eloquent as you at writing down my thoughts. Love reading all your articles. So glad to have you back.

  4. could not agree with you more ,every word,

  5. Thank You HG for your heartfelt exquisite professional review. Soul David for sure. :)) Loving the Album. I’ll be re reading this to savor it some more. Yes being the featured singer on Glad Christmas Tidings Counts. Six it is :)

  6. Great review hg. I agree with you about David’s version of “Everybody Hurts”. It is just so good.

  7. Very nice review, HG. Good to have you back.

  8. It’s such a shame that this gem of an album will not have the opportunity to get the exposure it deserves…no David, no label, and probably no funds. I just hope there is some sort of plan to keep it going for at least the rest of this year. The fans have done all they could and then some.

    • I did read that there is a billboard up in Salt Lake City for the album, and Deseret is promoting it aggressively at their stores. Broken is now on the charts in the Philippines. As ODD fans we wish for more, but really this isn’t bad for an independent release with David out of the country. And, as you said, the ODD fans are doing all they can. If we can get people to listen to the album I think there are many that would like it.

      • Utah and Deseret is doing a fabulous job, thank goodness, but I always want more, lol. The Phillippine fans are so great, I’m sure Broken will do well on their charts. Got to look at the glass half full, instead of half empty.

      • Yes I agree grammyj. BEGIN is doing well when you consider it is an indie release and David is out of the country.

  9. Thank you for this review worthy of all David’s hard work.

  10. Excellent review! David continues to inspire me to be a better person via his music and through his self-expression. “That cry and vulnerability…” is unlike any other artist out there today.

  11. HG, thanks for the stellar review. I finally was able to buy BEGIN. on iTunes last night (long story). I’d read some comments and tweets but had stayed away from most of the online chatter because I didn’t want spoilers.

    I was prepared to like BEGIN. immensely, but I really wasn’t prepared for it to be such a masterpiece! I had to stop myself from replaying every song so I could listen to the album as a whole. I listened to it three times late into the night, slept for about four hours, and got up early and went walking through the woods to a lake in order to listen to it in a perfect environment.

    David’s vocals on Broken remind me of the highs of Crazy and the way he closes out Beautiful! He can close out a song like nobody I know. Pride was also a big surprise for me because I hadn’t seen anyone list it as a favorite. I don’t have the liner notes yet but I would guess that John Hancock’s (of PAP & RRC fame) fingerprints are all over Pride. Hurts is a masterpiece. Be Still — did people really ever complain about David singing Mormon hymns? I never was a fan of Angel, but there I was sitting in the dark with tears streaming out of my eyes.

    And what does it say about David coming into his own that he makes an album of popular covers, and the song that keeps running around in my head is Broken?

    I’m a huge, HUGE fan of David and this CD absolutely floors me. It deserves to sell through the Christmas season.

  12. Terrific Review HG!! You did good LOL! Maybe the reason the album resonates so much is that it appeals to our “old” souls as well. I use old in the sense that our naivete about life has taken some real dings and dents along the way – so cynicism is the common order of the day. David was not even born when some of the songs charted and for a young person he sure is able to tap into whatever exists in the universe to produce a work so natural and intuitive. BTW, I was green with envy watching those London pics of yours. Glad you had a good break.

    Dear Anon, your heartfelt response to BEGIN is fully understood, believe me. It is truly exceptional. Thanks for sharing.

    I feel like I am joined by the hip to this cd. It goes everywhere with me. I only received my physical copies yesterday and carry one in my purse at all times to have easy access to give one away if needed. a funny story – I put one in my home theater sound system to play last night and had to coax the thing a couple times this morning to eject the cd. I said – I know, I know, he’s good isn’t he, but I MUST have him back to play in the car. Haha!

  13. It’s funny, SOWK is my least favorite also, yet it’s the most popular on iTunes. And Pride and Don’t Give Up are two of my favorites, but they’re the least popular. I guess people like that SOWK is relatively upbeat and new. My concert buddy-daughter has no interest in BEGIN–too many oldies I suppose. She always loved “Touch My Hand” and other bouncy stuff from him.

    Totally jealous of HG getting to go to England for the Olympics–I was at the Olympics in 1984, Los Angeles–before some of you were born. (My mom was at the 1932 Olympics in L.A.!)

  14. The Pet Shop Boys!!! OMG!

    British ’80s pop! Woohoo!!

    I’m reliving my childhood watching the Olympics closing ceremony!

    What I would give to see Duran Duran! :D

  15. Imagine!

  16. What’s George Michael doing singing David’s song, lol. Heaven knows I was just a young boy….

  17. Imagine! You beat me to it, D-Rat!

    George Michael’s “Freedom”! I can’t help but think of Naomi Campbell in his video! :)

  18. Annie Lennox! It’s like watching MTV back when it featured music!

  19. Hello Gorgeous

    Ugh! The Spice Girls! (Lowest point in pop music EVER!!)

    Where’s Elton John? Adele?

  20. I was also wondering where Adele was. And who is this Eric Idle guy???? I’ll have to google him.

  21. Queen!!!!!! Surely they will sing “We are the Champions”

  22. Looks like BEGIN will not make the top 50 on the album chart. Based on predictions, this means it sold less than 3,000 copies in its first week, which is sad, because it’s such a great album.

    • To be honest I am not surprised at all. I was hoping for 4K for BEGIN’s first week sales. Any album that is on an independent label, has no promo, no radio air play, and the artist is out of the country for 2 years is going to have low sales. The sales are that low for some artists that have labels, promo ect. Music industry is just tough. Agree that it is a great album.

  23. I wonder if the sales of the album from Deseret Books count into the sales numbers? I know I purchased mine from iTunes and Walmart. Might not be that much anyway.

  24. Hello Gorgeous

    BEGIN. is an amazing album and I wish more people could hear it, but without promo, how is it possible to sell enough copies?

  25. Oh wow. My heart dropped nevertheless :( *sigh*

    Anyway, many thanks for the review, HG.

    “Yes, I definitely get the feeling that BEGIN. is the beginning of David’s discovery of his true Voice and musical identity”

    My thoughts exactly!

  26. I think we should wait for Billboard numbers on BEGIN.
    I certainly don’t think it sold a huge amount but I believe that it sold more than 3,000. The numbers that are reporting today are from HDD. They use a sampling from specific large retailers. You can pretty much bet any sales from Deseret are not included in that. Deseret responded to a fan question on twitter today and said that while they don’t report actual unit sales, they do send their numbers to Billboard. So when the final Billboard numbers come out on Wednesday, the Deseret sales should be included.
    My guess would be in the 5,000 range for the week. But I’m just guessing lol. We’ll know for sure in a few days.

    • I think anything over 4K for sales for the first week is very good. I hope you are right Ali about it being in the 5K range. I think you might be.

  27. I forgot to tell you I just LOVE your album review, HG!! Its always so fun to hear everyone’s personal perspectives on music. I’ve been trying to write out my thoughts on the album and most it comes out like, “A;OSDFIJODASIJFAOSIDJFOADSIJF HIS VOICE THOUGH”. ;)

    • Thanks! I know what you mean about the gobbledy gook (why do you think it took me a whole week to write this up?).

  28. Just checked David’s wikipedia entry and finally that goofy picture from right after Idol is gone and there is one from 2 years ago. .

  29. David needs more publicity like this article in the Deseret News
    I love that Kurt Bestor says this: “A voice like David Archuleta’s comes along so rarely, that in my more than 30 years of arranging and producing for singers, I have only met a couple that even come close.”

  30. Great article in Spanish about BEGIN and includes quotes from Lupe about David and making the album:

    For those of you who don’t speak Spanish (me!), here is the Google translated version:

    Hopefully that link works!! Lupe says some beautiful things about how hard David worked to get this done but this was my favorite quote, “Very soon, when his mission {is over}, we will have him back among us singing, because music is his life.”

  31. WOO! Final HDD estimates are in and they’re projecting 9150 in sales for BEGIN this week!!

    That’s incredible considering what we were looking at yesterday lol. Again, I do not know if they are estimating for sales that might be occurring at Deseret so when official Billboard numbers come out tomorrow we’ll have a much better idea what total sales were.

    • It made me happy to see this estimate from HDD. I’m glad that I had low expectations so that this looks good to me – it’s way better than 3000 Peter had estimated. David will also be selling overseas and the cost of making this album will be lower since it’s an idie release, so all things considered this isn’t bad!

      • Didn’t that article that was circulated widely a while back estimate that an indie-type album needs to sell approximately 10,000 copies to break even? If so, then I’d say they’re in good shape with this one.

  32. Yes!!!!! YEA. Great news about the sales of BEGIN. David is at #31 on HDD. You are right Ali it sold 9150. Love what Kurt Bestor said about David.

  33. I’ll take it!! I feel a lot better than I did yesterday!

  34. That’s great! Also, it is possible that this figure does not include Deseret Book. Saw a tweet about that yesterday.

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