At some point, the folk singer/songwriter David Massengill added the word "storyteller" to his business card, and on such self-released CDs as Stories and Songs and The Christmas That Santy Claus Froze, he has mixed his songs (many of which tell stories) equally with spoken word tracks. On How I Chose a Life of Crime, he changes the balance in favor of storytelling, including 11 stories and only three songs ("Buck & Satch," "Calling in the Cows," and "Young Whippersnapper and the Killer Man Blues"). Massengill has a rich baritone voice, and he savors his words as he reminisces about his youth in Bristol, TN, recalling anecdotes involving his family, his friends, and his grade-school teachers. The songs are lightly humorous and affectionate, with a strong sense of nostalgia for Southern, semi-rural life. Massengill also likes to read actual documents from the past, such as a letter written to his grandmother when she was a teenager ("Mamaw's Secret Suitor") and an essay found among his late father's papers that reveals a Thoreau-like bent ("Loving and Saving Wild Flowers"). Those expecting an album full of Massengill's witty songs may be disappointed, but the stories provide insight into some of the sources of that wit.
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