A quick web search for information on [a]David Ackles[/a] doesn’t come up with much: one of his songs features in a chart titled ‘Songs My Dad Really Digs’; another page reveals the underwhelming news that Phil Collins selected ‘Downriver’ when he guested on [I]Desert Island Discs[/I]. As a Great Lost Genius worth exhuming in 1999, Ackles doesn’t initially look like he’ll cut it.
His eponymous debut album tells a different story, however. In the midst of America’s upsurge of late-’60s singer-songwriters, this former child actor from Rock Island, Illinois, had a little of everything: the blissed and blasted flightiness of Tim Buckley; the wise resonance of Leonard Cohen; the art-cabaret melodrama of Scott Walker; even the gruff romanticism of Neil Diamond.
Like all of these, Ackles‘ muse is full-blooded and unashamedly florid, transfixed with deep thoughts about lost love and metaphorical flown ravens. “I am a man and men are all one kind”, he ponders sombrely on the fabulous ‘Blue Ribbons’, and still manages to take your breath away.
Ackles hasn’t made a record for some 25 years, a glorious failure as a rock star, and his other three albums aren’t quite in the same class as the first. But his debut is the sort of Bible-tinged slow-burner, gloomy and grandiose, that old Nick Cave would love to make. And, interventionist God willing, probably will.