David Dondero – A Pre-Existing Condition

January 01, 1970





Throughout a career that’s now reached the nearly 20-year
mark, David Dondero’s made a habit of picking up the tattered threads of withered
Americana and frayed folk music, and weaving them into a hushed whisper that’s
all his own. At first glimpse he appears not all that unlike those other
weary-eyed, heavy-lidded troubadours that count themselves among the so-called
nu-folk populace these days, although he’s constantly exhibited a headstrong
determination that lifts him beyond that malaise. On his latest effort, a rapid
follow-up to last year’s Zero with a
, Dondero parts the curtains and brandishes his influences, offering
up some notable covers alongside a spate of original compositions. Showing
subtlety and skill, he affirms his everyman aspirations, retracing the likes of
Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Jimmie Rodgers, Neil Young and Lowell George while
mooting any attempt at pandering or presumption.


As a result, A Pre-Existing
is informed by Dondero’s reverence for his predecessors
and his deft interpretation of selected gems from America’s most literate
songbooks. Kicking off the album with a surprisingly assured take on Little
Feat’s “Willin’,” Dondero plays with the refrain, pausing the chorus at key
intervals to give the words greater weight. “T For Texas” becomes an anthem of
sorts, without sacrificing its restless appeal. “(Is Anybody Going To) San
Antone” finds new urgency, transformed from the jocular sing-along that marked
the treatment given it in duet form by Dylan and Doug Sahm. Dylan’s own “Let Me
Die In My Footsteps,” once a hoary ode to regret and mortality, finds a new
measure of hope and circumspect, now in the form of a plucking banjo serenade.


Dondero’s own compositions parallel many of the themes and
melodies present in the traditional offerings and older standards, even going
so far as to offer an ode to a legendary country icon with “Song For Buck Owens”
(“Let’s drink to the Buckaroos”) and to concoct some legitimate blues of his
own via “Please Hand Me Over to the Undertaker” and the title track. Taken in
tandem, A Pre-Existing Condition becomes an unconditional expression of admiration, and, in turn, Dondero’s most
emphatic effort yet.


“Willin’,” “(Is Anybody Going) to San Antone,” “Let Me Die In My Footsteps” LEE

Leave a Reply