DAVE PRESTON: Tehachapi Line
It’s not every day that you receive a CD with an almost entirely a one-man production, but that’s the case with Dave Preston’s new release, Tehachapi Line. Recorded at his home studio, On Track Recording, in Imperial Beach, Preston’s ten tracks of original tunes, all mixed and mastered there as well, feature him playing guitar, mandolin, bass, pedal steel, drums, and piano, as well as lead vocalist on nine tracks.
The opening track, “My Loveheart’s Gone,” is a lively good-time tune that immediately spotlights some of the musical guests on the album, leading off with fiddle/violinist Candy Girard making her presence known with a bevy of smooth styling fiddle motifs, along with train riffs from Darrell Richardson on harmonica and Preston’s wife, Cheryl Jackson Preston, chiming in on vocal harmony on the choruses.
“Church Bells Ring,” reminiscent of Waylon and Willie’s songwriting format, features Preston on mandolin with nicely executed weeping fiddle tones by Girard. “Preacher says she was a good woman, but the time has come and Jesus has called her home.” The title track is a lovely duet from Preston and his wife, as if Johnny Cash and June Carter had just entered the building. “Headed down to old Mexico…there’s something about that place, I just don’t know.” Tom Wolverton enters the fray on this track with a silky dobro solo interlude.
Preston’s wife, Cheryl, is front and center for the lead vocal on the catchy tune “Ready for Love.” “Not ready for a cheating man…not ready for the King of Siam.” Wolverton’s dulcet tones on the dobro augment the cry-in-your-beer tune, “Every Time I Fall in Love,” followed by “Since I Seen Memphis,” a gospel-flavored tune bolstered by Preston’s church-like accompaniment on the organ.
“Can You See Me Now,” a tender ballad, pinpointing some of Preston’s best lyrics, is embellished deftly by Girard’s soulful violin phrases. “Standing here outside, this lonely avenue… there’s no one here tonight, just me and this old moon.” An 180 degree turn is taken on “Get Sick and Die Blues,” a 12-bar blues tune where Richardson and Preston get to jam out on harmonica and guitar respectively, backed by Preston’s rhythmic grooves on organ.
“Other Side of Nowhere” is another tender duet with wife Cheryl, accompanied by perfectly placed heavenly pedal steel guitar tones. The album concludes gracefully with just Preston’s voice and piano on the tune “The Beauty of You,” Preston’s best vocal moment. “Let the dreamers dream their dreams…let the fallen ones face their schemes…but I’ll never lose the beauty of you.” A lovely coda to a well-crafted album of songwriting and diversity of instruments supplementing each arrangement.