David Ramirez has a voice like a tall tale, one minute strong and smoky, the next threadbare and careworn. After a string of albums, EPs, and thousands of miles spent on the road touring, often completely alone, Ramirez logged even more time in the studio only to come away unsatisfied with the results. He scrapped what he had and took a break from music, and in that interim, took a long hard look at himself. Usually, a romantic relationship is the quickest way to bring your flaws and insecurities sharply into focus, and this was the case for Ramirez. You can hear this rock-bottom-clarity ringing through every line of “Harder To Lie,” the first song off the album he eventually made after confronting his own myth-making. Accordingly, the record is called FABLES, and was recorded in Seattle and produced by the Northwest’s own foremost indie-acoustic songwriter Noah Gundersen.
“Harder To Lie” courses by slow on a gently tapped backbeat and some brilliant pedal steel guitar by Greg Leisz, but Ramirez’s voice dominates the song. It wafts above the melody, harmonies, and percussion like a dark and smoky omen. Between that backbeat and Ramirez’s quiet moralizing, I’d say this could almost pass for a Ricky Skaggs song from the ’90s — and that’s a compliment. Listen below.
FABLES is out on 8/28 via Thirty Tigers.