Light The Dark

by David Ullman

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about

According to NO DEPRESSION, "David Ullman sings with a passion and clarity that belies his relative rookie status." His latest album, LIGHT THE DARK, is hailed by the same authority on roots music as "both striking and sincere. Every track reflects the strength of an artist possessed, one benefitting from both confidence and craft. There’s nothing halfway or compromising about what Ullman does; he puts his all into every offering and the results bear that out, even on first hearing."

A moody mix of haunted hymns, blasphemous ballads, and folk-rock redemption songs, LIGHT THE DARK was recently released in a limited-edition LP/CD combo package on Ullman's own label, Dreaming Out Loud Records.

Largely subsidized by a series of successful fundraising concerts and an online “crowdfunding campaign,” LIGHT THE DARK asks its audience to examine the conflicts between who they are versus who they want to be; where they come from versus where they’re going; and, what they’ve been told versus what they, themselves believe.

“These songs share not only a resilient spirit, but also a willingness to shine a light on one’s self and confront the ways in which we are often our own worst enemy,” Ullman explains. “It’s an album about the ongoing, and often traumatic, process of finding your place in the world--deciding for what, and with whom, you will stand.

“Whereas my first album was written and recorded in a vacuum and performed at gigs after the fact, all of the songs on LIGHT THE DARK were honed and developed on stage. So, the primary goal for this record was to capture the energy and dynamics of my live performances with minimal accompaniment in the hope that audiences will respond as well to what they bring home as they have been to my live show.”

Originally from Northeast Ohio, Ullman’s emotionally intelligent and unabashedly candid debut, DOG DAYS (2008), was deemed “exquisitely beautiful” and “intensely rich” by Cleveland music critics, and the region’s concertgoers were introduced to Ullman over the course of the more than 300 shows he played in support of the album, as well as its singles/EPs “Deja Vu” (2007) and “Secondhand” (2009) and the live “Bootleg” UNPLUGGED @ UNCORKED (2010).

Building a devoted fan base one passionate, furrow-browed performance at a time, the now 34-year-old Ullman began playing clubs, coffeehouses and bars in and around Kent, Ohio in 2005 while finishing college and working twelve-hour-nights in a plastics factory. He’s since left both factory and college life behind, relocating to Northfield, Minnesota and taking his tattered green Doc Martens and his bloodied, battered Martin guitar on the road.

“One of the benefits of beginning your music career in a college town is that, after they graduate, the students who’ve made up your audience either return to where they’re from or move someplace new,” Ullman says. “I’m fortunate to have supporters in some pretty cool places.”

Regardless of the setting, whether it’s opening for acts like Need To Breathe, Chelsea Crowell, Iris DeMent, Hamell On Trial, Josh Krajcik or Rusted Root on theater and club stages; returning to his old stomping grounds to play in the Kent State Folk Festival; or a private house concert, Ullman’s most valuable asset is his ability to relate to an audience.

Listeners easily identify with the extreme highs, the obliterating lows and the hazy in-betweens reflected in his songs. Slightly gravelly vocals, which crescendo from the barest whisper to a barely-controlled roar, lend Ullman’s earnest and raw confessions a grace and sincerity rarely found in today’s music.

“For me,” he says, “even though I might sing about intense, sad-sounding subjects, the goal is always to transcend the darkness by giving voice to it. It’s catharsis. I don’t usually sing songs when I’m happy. I guess you could say I sing sad songs to get happy.”

credits

released 04 December 2012

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Written by David Ullman

Click individual songs for production credits

featuring...

Brian Yost - Drums, Percussion, Keys and Bouzouki
Tara Hanish - Cello
Brian Ullman - Electric Guitar
Kristoffer Carter - Bass ("Wise Blood")
Nate Pelfrey - Bass ("The Fall")
Zach - Vocals and Lead Guitars ("Happiest Sad Song")

Mixed by Jake Fader
Mastered by Adam Boose at Cauliflower Audio, Lakewood, OH

Photography by lesley.anne.k photo | design

Thank You - Susie: best. wife. ever. You light my dark everyday; Jack, for all the advice, encouragement and direction; Kyle for your commitment and creativity ; Yost for your initiative, versatility and friendship ; KC for kicking out the jams; BT: badass guitar wizard; Tara for kicking ass and classing up the project; Zach for lending his pen, vox and guitar chops: Namaste; Nate Pelfrey for the fretless action; Nate, Seth & Gina @ Just A Dream Studios; Cary and the RCR Recording Studio Crew; Big Bob & Matt D for the sweet hook-up @ Elevation; Jake for making the ghosts between the speakers dance; Adam for making it all sound sweet but not too loud; Monica, Rae Ann & April for your great ideas & teamwork; Sean, Kris, Dallas and Dawn for the feedback; Abby, for the friendly advice; Terry Durst and The Beachland Ballroom; Timothy Eddings and Musica; The Bushman, Enormity and Mike T; SPECIAL THANKS: Dawn Ray-Novak, Kimberly Ann & all “Fantastic Fuelers”

All songs by David Ullman (BMI)
Except "Happiest Sad Song" co-written
with Zach Freidhof (Zef Music/BMI)

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Track Name: Who You Say
This is my cry in the dark
In the blackest of nights
As fire comes from a spark
Set my soul alight
In the beginning was the word
So much has gotten in the way
After everything I’ve learned
I can’t bring myself to pray

(REFRAIN)
Still here I kneel
My humble head bowed
Broken heart in your hands
Begging you aloud
Show mercy please
Hear me out
Come down from that tree
Lift my father up
Send my sister love
bring my brother hope
make sure my mother knows
that her son will be alright
there’s no need to cry
if you are who you say
then show me today

Prove you have a plan
To make everyone fall in line
Somehow make me understand
How love can be a crime
For every truth that’s been obscured
Surely something has survived
For the meek who have endured
You’ve promised to provide

REFRAIN

Take the condition out of love
A promise divine
Has been twisted and corrupt
Salvation for a price
Show mercy please
God Hear me out
Come down from that tree

Lift my father up
Send my sister love
bring my brother hope
make sure my mother knows
that her sons will be alright
there’s no need to cry
if you are who you say
then show me today

They say all roads lead back to you
And someday all will see
How I need this to be true
Won’t you make me believe

I’m determined here to stand
Whether you’ll deliver me or not
An awful roar in my head
And a song in my heart
Track Name: Wise Blood
Dark clouds cut through the sky
And night starts to bleed into day
You’re off down a one-way road
And all the signs say “Jesus Saves”

Where you come from is gone
You can’t go back
The train is taking off,
It’s tearing up the track
You tried to move on
But it called you back
It cannot be denied
It’s the blood that’s wise

Running away from what you don’t believe
Rantin’, raving that you are not clean
With a sharp tongue and jagged teeth
Shoutin’ “you reckon that you’ve been redeemed?”

With a tear in his throat
And the devil in his eyes
He’s preaching the Church of Jesus Christ without Christ
Tried to move on
But the blood inside
It cannot be denied
It’s the blood that’s wise

A martyr lying for the truth
A soldier dying in a preacher’s suit
His barbed-wire heart breaking before your eyes
He’s paying the price
For having blood that’s wise

He’s Haunted by a man
leaping from limb to limb
in the forest of his mind
he can no longer pretend
There’s no end in sight
No bottom to his eyes
He’s walking on rocks
toward a pin-prick of light
bleeding blood that’s wise
Track Name: The Fall
The leaves are turning brown
They’ll soon be falling to the ground
It’s getting cold outside

You’re in your corner and I’m in mine
We’re both wishing we could find
A way to turn the tide

You can shout and you can scream
With silence louder than anything
But I’m not ready to risk it all
‘Cause when it comes to you
I’ve still got a long way to fall

We’re having one of those nights again
This is one of those times my friend
Where every sentence starts a fight

We’re singing two separate songs
Can’t seem to get along
Or find a way to harmonize

Just let the wind tow the line
As the moon controls the tide
Think I’m ready to risk it all
But when it comes to you
I’ve still got a long way to fall

We’re gonna have it out now and then
I’m not just trying to make amends
But I think this break is about bend
Cause I’m ready to risk it all
And when comes to you
I’ve still got a long way to fall

I’ve still gotta ways to fall
I’ve still got you to call
I’m ready to risk it all
And you’re not getting rid of me

I’ve still got room to grow
I’m not gonna let you go
I want all the world to know
That you’re not getting rid of me

I’ve still gotta ways to fall
I’ve still got you to call
I’m ready to risk it all…

I’ve still got room to grow
I’m not gonna let you go
Want the whole damn world to know…

When it comes to you and me
I’m not gonna let this be
I’ll keep singing ‘till you agree
That you’re not getting rid of me

I’ve still gotta a ways to fall
I’ve still got room to grow
I want all the world to know
That you’re not getting rid of me
I’ll keep singing ‘till you agree
This I guarantee
You’re not getting rid of me

The leaves are turning brown
They’ll soon be falling to the ground
It’s getting cold outside
Track Name: Fear Followed
Driving into the dawn
All my innocence denied
All my worries are gone
with you by my side
Wasn't the gun in my face
It was the gleam in his eye telling me
Today's as good as any day to die

Barbed-wire fences
cut across the sky
Drawing lines between
fight and flight
While the fear, it follows me
It cannot be denied
With perfect resignation
I’ve made up my mind

(CHORUS)
Now the red moon's at arm's reach
begging for forgiveness
The wind roars out a warning
and the air, it thickens
I tried to reason with myself
but self wouldn't listen

Hitch-hiking on a highway
with no consequence
I've crossed the line
I've jumped the fence
Heading toward the horizon
darkness falls on queue
staining the oil-spill sunset
a blood-soaked hue

CHORUS

Where i'm going now
fear can't follow
There's no need for safely here
There'll be no tomorrow
There's no wrong or right now
just you and me
while the devil awaits his due
in a dreamless sleep
Track Name: Light The Dark
There’s a violence inside of me
And a weakness on display
An anger burning quietly
That will not go away
Seems the more that I struggle
The harder it becomes
To believe in miracles
In anything or anyone

But I will not fall apart
I will not give in… or take part
I’ll set fire to the spark
And burn a hole in the night
To light the dark

And I know that you feel it to
The way the world weighs on you
The frustration of the fight
Still you manage to stand up
For what you know is right

You will not fall apart
You will not give in… or take part
You’ll set fire to the spark
And burn a hole in the night
To light the dark

We’re leaving these roads outgrown
For wide open skies
In your heart I’ve found my home
I’m better man when seen… through your eyes

We will not fall apart
We will not give in… or take part
We’ll set fire to the spark
And burn a hole in the night… to light the dark
Track Name: Happiest Sad Song
Throwing diamonds at the sky
trying to outshine the moon
There’s no time to reflect
and there’s never enough room
(never enough room)

There’s no easy fix..
and each time it gets worse
Getting harder and harder
to write our next verse
(help me write our next verse)

(CHORUS)
You said you couldn’t find a happy song
in all I’ve written for you
You said you wanted a happy song
and there were none that you knew
I guess the happiest sad song
is gonna have to

You say sadness is surrender,
and sympathy is not love
But I believe in you
and I am not giving up
(please don’t ever give up)

Sometimes faith is not enough
and you need what you can touch
Feel like you’re always running
and never catching up
(I just wanna catch up)

CHORUS

Like a star in the sky
that dies before the dawn
Even the brightest moon
is overtaken by the sun
Trying to see in the dark
the light that’s breaking through
I’ve been so proud of my pain
now I’ve got nothing left to prove

I’m just trying to add a happy song
to all I’ve written for you
I’m just trying to sing a happy song
this is the best that I can do
I guess the happiest sad song
is gonna have to do
Track Name: You'll See
Sometimes you gotta say it clear
Somethings not working here
Though we seem to have lost our way
I know we're gonna be ok
'Cause in this partnership of equal stakes
We'll find a balance of give and take
Let's on this one thing agree

(CHORUS)
You're the only one for me
Don't want some dressed up fantasy
No, not some silly celebrity
Nobody else could be
A better fit for me
There's only you…
Only me...
You'll see

Like a train that's jumped the track
I know we cannot go back
How could I have be so mean
To the sweetest thing I've ever seen
How could I ever resists
Your little thumb-hidden fists?
With humble hands I plead

CHORUS

You're talking of bells that can't be unrung
But I'm thinking of bell-ringing to come
I don't know what I'm gonna do
But I know how I feel about you

CHORUS 2x
Track Name: Upward Down
Want to start, but where to begin
I’ve spent such long time my friend
On the outside looking in

Working hard, and spending all my time
First on the bill but last in line
Trying to make the wrong words rhyme

Up here so high
Way up in the clouds
I've lost sight
I'm upward-down
I don't wanna fight
Just wanna kiss the ground tonight

Wanna be everywhere at once
Be everything to everyone
Falling short at all fronts

But I'm not lost
And I don't need found
I'm a long way off on this upward down
I don't wanna fight
Just wanna clear the air tonight
I've stolen time
I've drawn flies
I've sold the truth
I've bought lies
I'm off the mark
but i'll get it right in time

Weary now from always keeping score
Never content to be ignored
Giving less but expecting more

Wish I were a much better friend
Want to have done all I could
I’ll do more when I can

But I'm running in place
And I can't slow down
Should I take a break or take a bow
It's this upward down
That's got me turned around