Given that David Mead recorded Dudes as a communal effort, it’s not surprising that it’s populated by character portraits, examinations and stories of, well, mostly dudes. There are spunky retirees, a CIA recruit, a befuddled lover, an armed lackwit, and on the title track – an homage to the best guy friends of all – dudes themselves. Mead, known for his wicked wit and “honeyed and compelling vocal” (Entertainment Weekly), began his sixth album quite unexpectedly, taking an unusual path to make Dudes, released on November 15.
“It all started with (producer) Ethan Eubanks asking when I was gonna do another record and I said, ‘I have no idea. I don’t have any money,’ ” Mead shares. And while the isolated and insular approach had previously yielded celebrated records including his 1999 RCA debut, The Luxury of Time, followed by Mine And Yours and Indiana, this time Mead found depth and inspiration in a communal musical experience, with musicians and fans alike participating in everything from recording to choosing songs to funding the album via Kickstarter. And it worked. Not only does Mead think Dudes is his best album yet, it debuted at #6 on the singer/songwriter iTunes chart.
“Dudes is definitely less of me and more a collective consciousness of the group,” says Mead. “There were about 15 people in the studio, everything from backup vocals to the core group of myself, producer and drummer Ethan Eubanks, bass player Jeff Hill, and Andrew Sherman on keyboards.”
But the songs themselves are all Mead’s. Dudes kicks off with “I Can’t Wait,” setting a personal and optimistic tone. “I quit drinking three yeas ago, and since then I’ve become a creature of the morning. It’s become my favorite part of the day.” Following the opening track are stories of dudes of all ages and circumstances, with a title track exalting the best guy friend – the dude. “Matthew Ryan once told me ‘there are guys who are friends and there are guys who are dudes.’ I always liked that. I think it’s the first male heterosexual lullaby I’ve ever heard, and I’m proud of that.”
Elsewhere, renegade men in a retirement home demonstrate vitality and spunk with “Bocce Ball.” A puzzle solver gets recruited as a decoder and goes mad on “King of The Crossword,” a lonely airport traveler sees false perfection in “The Smile of Rachael Ray,” and a straight man considers taking a different path in “Guy on Guy.”
Mead just returned from an extensive sold-out run in Europe with Fountains of Wayne. He begins touring behind Dudes in the US in January.