On David Huckfelt’s new album Room Enough, Time Enough a spacious dreaminess swirls in the opening measures of Keith Secola’s haunting “Book of Life.” Spare guitar notes provide the vocal lines along which Huckfelt sings and over which the haunting and vibrating vocal chants of Warm Springs Nation Native singer Quiltman echo, as the singer repeats a litany of questions about ourselves, the world, the spirit world, and others: “Where are you going?/Why are you leaving?/Why do we suffer?/What is the meaning?/How do we live by?/Who would you die for?/What do you cry for?/Is it all real?” The singer affirms that the “answer’s in the book of life/answer’s in the book of life.” With palpable emotion, the final lines of the song remind us not only to be mindful of our relationships with nature and the sacred but also that although “life’s full of sadness/love is the answer.”
“Book of Life” is the centerpiece of an album that explores the permeable boundaries of spirit world and natural world, probes the ruptured relationships between humans and the world, and carries a tentative message of hope and reconciliation. The opening track, “Better to See the Face,” rides in on swirling organ strains, creating an ethereal atmosphere into which bright guitar notes slide into a cantering rhythm of a tune that reflects on the power of vision to promote healing. Cascading guitars flood the opening of “Gambler’s Dharma,” a tip of the hand to the power of the unseen to shape life and the revelatory moments that flow out of our actions with others. Dave Simonett captures the gravelly cowboy lonesomeness of old cowboy ballad “Bury Me Not (The Dying Cowboy)” before Huckfelt’s galloping Mariachi version of the song turns the cowboy’s plea into a Native American lament and desire not to be buried on a prairie that is now bereft of all life stripped away by ranchers and all those who took all life from the land. The poignant title track floats along a bed of steel guitar and organ, enveloping us dust storm of yearning to make right the errors of the past and to live with intention into every moment to create a space for love to flourish. It’s at once a nostalgic dream and a fervent wish. Perhaps the most moving song on the album is Huckfelt’s take on Patti Smith’s “Ghost Dance,” for its swirling vocals, hypnotic chants, and circling rhythms carry us through the portal into the spirit world; if we can dance with this song, we, too, will be inspired to honor all those ancestors who came before us, offering in our actions towards the earth and others a chance for them to live again.
Huckfelt is joined on Room Enough, Time Enough by Ojibwe ambassador of Native Americana music Keith Secola, Tucson’s own living songwriting legend Billy Sedlmayr, Giant Sand founder and head purveyor of the southwestern electric-fuzz border sound Howe Gelb, former Bob Dylan drummer Winston Watson, award-winning South Dakota Indigenous singer Jackie Bird, Arizona Blues Hall of Fame harmonica player Tom Walbank, and Calexico contributors Connor Gallaher on pedal steel and Jon Villa on trumpet. Other Midwestern musical luminaries appear such as Iowa folk legend Greg Brown, Dave Simonett, Ryan Young, Pieta Brown, Jeremy Ylvisaker, J.T. Bates, Erik Koskinen, Michael Rossetto, and Quiltman.
Room Enough, Time Enough illustrates the power of song to speak love to power, to create an atmosphere in which we ponder what it means to be human, and to evoke the power of memory to liberate and to provide hope.
Room Enough, Time Enough is available HERE.