As a guitarist/singer/songwriter/arranger, Dave Cross combines touches of both jazz and blues. In addition to his formidable guitar chops and easy, languid vocals, Dave has a talent for surrounding himself with top-notch musicians. The selections on Songbook all showcase the rich musical interplay between Cross and his backing band, which includes keyboards, a horn section and Dave’s wife Sue on bass.
Tracks like “Everyone Knows” and “Broke on Payday” reveal Cross’s talent for performing up-tempo blues shuffles, where Cross punctuates his tongue-in-cheek lyrics with twisting, intricate guitar lines. On ballads like “I Promise” and “Gently,” Cross shows his skills as an accompanist— he strums delicate, atmospheric chords behind jazz horn solos and guest vocalist Gail Chasin. One of the most impressive tracks on Songbook is the New Orleans-flavored “Church of Charles.” While Cross’s lyrics pay tribute to Mingus, Monk and Armstrong, the horn players jam over a funky rhythm section that’s buffed up by guest percussionist Papo Rodriguez.
Dave and Sue Cross are based in Southern California, and their music displays a strong West Coast sensibility. The low-key style they bring to jazz and blues makes Songbook a worthwhile listen for roots music fans.