Personnel: David Duncan, Suzanne Pride, Larry Maguire, Jeff Gargiulo, Carmen Policy.
Audio Mixers: Russell Wiener; Dave Trumfio.
Liner Note Authors: David Pack; David Duncan; Suzanne Pride; Larry Maguire; Jeff Gargiulo; Carmen Policy.
Recording information: Beachwood Park, Los Angeles, CA; Brauntosoarus Studio, Woodland Hills, CA; Gargiulo Vineyards "Studio", Napa Valley; North Beach Studios, Franklin, TN; Ocean Way Studios, Hollywood, CA; Pack's Place Studio, Orange County, CA; Parsonics, Santa Barbara, CA; Phantom Recordings, Van Nuys, CA; Pride Mountain Vineyards "Red House", Napa Valley; Quad Studios, Nashville, TN.
Photographers: David Pack; Bret Lopez; Stacey Pack.
Although he is chiefly remembered as the lead singer for Ambrosia, David Pack's musical career since the mid-'80s has been mostly behind the scenes as a songwriter and producer, and he's been pretty successful at it, having produced work for artists like Selena, Wynonna Judd, Aretha Franklin, and Kenny Loggins, and as a music director, he staged events for both of President Clinton's inaugurals, as well as events for Barbra Streisand, Elton John, and Leonard Bernstein, among others. As a solo artist, he released a solo album post-Ambrosia in 1985, then a trio of albums and a five-song EP between 2004 and 2007, but really nothing since, until this interesting release, a conceptual and production collaboration with several Napa Valley vineyards and featuring guest spots from Ray Manzarek, Bla Fleck, Alan Parsons, Todd Rundgren, Larry Carlton, Rick Braun, and others. In a sense, it's an album-sized commercial for Napa Valley and these specific wineries, but what holds it together as more is the wonderful, warm, and bright production and the fact that the songs, written by people who actually work at these wineries, with Pack's help, are for the most part quite melodic and pleasant, filled with a sun-kissed California glow. Some of the songs have a direct wine or vine-related theme, but not all of them, and the best, which include the joyous and racing opener "O' Blessed Vine" (driven by Bla Fleck's banjo playing), the Doors-like "Silverado Free" (featuring Ray Manzarek's distinctive keyboard playing, one of the last tracks he worked on before his death), and the traditional country-sounding (by way of Bakersfield) "Wine Country Cowboy" (featuring the vocals of Jimmy Wayne), all work outside of the Napa Valley context, even as they draw central metaphors from it. It's a pleasure, too, to hear Pack sing, which is a delight in itself, but a lot of these tracks, however nice they might sound, fall a bit to the generic side of things. It's all a bit sweet, but then, there are worse things. The obvious joy that went into this set redeems it. ~ Steve Leggett