David Zweig started performing in New York City in the late 90s. Some shows were just Zweig on an acoustic guitar; others had him performing with a drummer and bass player, rocking as a tight trio; and still others had the trio joined by string and horn sections. That Zweig used three different live setups is an indication of the variation of sound found in his music.
A small but loyal following quickly developed and word of Zweig’s unique sound spread within the industry. Renowned producer Keith Cleversley, who’d been at the helm for some of the most acclaimed bands in the past decade including The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Hum, and Spiritualized, immediately invited Zweig out to his studio in Chicago to cut an album. The result was All Now With Wings, released on Zweig’s own Ebb & Flow Records.
All Now With Wings, by most accounts a magnum opus, is filled with swirling string arrangements, triumphant horns, walls of guitar, and grandiose soundscapes. There is even a gospel choir featured on one track. An ambitious undertaking for any musician but especially so for a debut album recorded on a shoe-string budget in just a few weeks. But, despite the sonic juggernaut, what carries the album and the music is the songwriting. What can be heard at the core of the record is a lone voice and an acoustic guitar.
Without the aid of a label, management, or extensive touring, the record was added on over 50 college radio playlists and cracked the top 20 on 8 of them (thanks Pasadena and Milwaukee for pushing Wings into the top 10!). The record also received raves from the independent music press, with local music paper The Aquarian calling Zweig “a symphonic pop prodigy.”
For Zweig’s second album, Keep Going, he teamed up again with Cleversley. Yet Keep Going is in many ways a departure from the sonic bombast of Wings. This time around, for the most part, gone is the wall-o’-sound and in its place is a sort of hyper-realism in the production, with much of the vocals and instruments left up-front and immediate. Going’s songs run the gamut from raw rock numbers, to lush opuses, to quiet acoustic sections, to delicious radio-rock-pop. Yet all this is tied together with a conceptual thread through the songwriting, connecting the tracks musically and lyrically; and through a unique production sound, often times both intimate and grand.
Both albums garnered Four Star reviews from AllMusic.com, among much other praise.