David Tholfsen – Walk With Me LP


David Tholfsen is an American musician and artist living in San Leandro, CA. He was the primary voice and songwriter of the group U.S. Saucer, an electric folk trio active in the 1990s who recorded three LPs and a 7″ for the Amarillo Records label. In the two decades prior, Tholfsen performed in many groups in Iowa, Arizona, and ultimately San Francisco, where his heavy art-rock outfit Blow reduced itself to the slow-drip syrup of his flagship endeavor. During this time, he also appeared on recordings by Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 and the Zip Code Revue. Post-Saucer, David shared a split 7″ with Suzanne Langille on the Road Cone label’s Instress series. He continued to record music privately throughout the 2000s, solo and with his bluegrass band The Tinnitans. His work outside of music includes a skilled practice in ceramics, sculpture, and puppetryoften vehicles for the same narratives, jokes, and wordplay of his songwriting. Walk With Me comes 25 years after his last appearance on a vinyl record. 

Walk With Me showcases David’s signature vocal stylings, in the form of multitrack renditions of chants that arose while regularly hiking the Oakland hills in recent years. If one was so curious to pry, there’s likely an anecdote and specific location to apply to each trackbut here they are offered for general utility and enjoyment. The spike of endorphins, mantric mind loops, literal peaks and valleys, and fluctuation of available breath color his chants with a natural dynamism. Tholfsen’s personal intention is one of practical use for the listener, as an encouragement to sing along and achieve the same mental and physical workout. For the home listener: tuneful mouth music, mostly non-lexical folk tunes with lots of lilting vocables and wild harmonizing to swirl up unusual patterns, bolstered by the giant spirit of a guy who’s been doing this a long time. Through a squint, these recordings could be reckoned as more of a text-sound performance deal for those who brain about in fancypants—but no need to detract from the charm and liveliness of the natural composition (‘improvisations over improvisions’). Always a familiar melody or song form to keep on the path, with enough craggy embellishments and curious tangles on the periphery to keep it interesting. A new rendition of an old Saucer track, “Shake Smear Laugh and Roll”, along with two others, even offer something in the way of lyrics (tip: they all have lyrics if you listen enough times). “Pick out a song, set it on loop and walk for miles,” is an alternate suggestion from David. 

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