David Ackles: The Bitter End, New York NY

DAVID ACKLES is one of the more interesting young performers working in the Brecht/Weill area of dramatic song. The 32-year-old Californian, a former playwright, writes and sings his own songs of personal and social significance, accompanying himself on piano.

At The Bitter End, where he appeared through last night, Mr. Ackles banged heartily on the customarily out-of-tune piano. His voice has a grave tone, especially foreboding when he sings songs like his ‘Main Line Saloon’, which deals with drug use, or ‘Inmates of the Institution’, which is either about a mental institution or about the general emptiness of life, depending on how depressed the listener is when he hears it.

At other times, Mr. Ackles can be quiet, tender and tearful. His ‘Subway to the Country’, about bringing up children in the city, is very good in this way. His habit of singing these songs through the smile of a very intense cherub is quite effective.

His presence is strong, and he is so wrapped up in what he does, he creates considerable feeling for material more often than not loaded with emotion and import.

© Mike JahnThe New York Times, 16 December 1969

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