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David Egan’s songs may be better known than he is. As the writer or co-composer of “Fading Footsteps” (memorably recorded by Solomon Burke), “Please No More” (a hit for Joe Cocker), and the Marcia Ball-Irma Thomas-Tracy Nelson signature, “Sing It,” the Lafayette-based singer-songwriter has shown his mastery of blues, from the ballad to the upbeat romp. But on David Egan, the onetime Filé keyboardist, who now plays with the Lil’ Band o’ Gold, proves he can deliver on his compositions as well.
Egan’s fallback sound is spare and cool—more Mose Allison than Professor Longhair—but within those parameters, he finds variety aplenty. Comping along with his own vocals on “On the Outside,” the pianist gets a lot with a little: the occasional articulated chord, the slightest tremolo in his warm tenor. When he finally takes a solo, it’s about the spaces, playing up against the slow beat with deliberate effect. Clean production makes the most of this barebones style, which dominates the album. On “Blues How They Linger,” a touch of twang from guitarist Joe McMahan highlights Egan’s keys. “Big Ol’ Hurt” revs it up a bit, for more grind and soul, courtesy of Dickie Landry’s bari sax, if not many more notes.
When Egan switches to Wurlitzer, he heads to the swamp. But even his pop is low-key. “Dead End Friend” may be the liveliest cut, but it’s eclipsed by others, notably “Funky Dreams,” which offers just that, spiked with accents from Lil’ Buck Senegal’s guitar. Still, Eagan’s songs can stand up to more. The most developed of these, “Dance to the Blues with Me,” recalls Randy Newman with its subtle structure and mood. Again, Landry’s bari adds touches of R&B raunch, but it’s all about the longing, all about the song.