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Singer-songwriter David Duchovny is on tour this winter performing original tracks from his debut album Hell or Highwater with a stop in San Francisco next week.

After portraying transgender detective Denise Bryson on Twin Peaks, investigating the paranormal as FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder on The X-Files, and engaging in the scandals of over-sexed writer Hank Moody on Californication, it seems Duchovny wants to accomplish more. He won best actor Golden Globes for his Mulder and Moody roles, but sometimes accolades are not enough.

He has diverse credits to his name, including writer of X-Files episodes; director of many Californication episodes; producer of much along the way; and actor in feature films. He wrote, directed, and acted in the movie House of D.

Mulder and Scully

A true Renaissance man, Duchovny recently branched out of the acting realm and wrote two novels. Holy Cow, published in 2015, follows Elsie the bovine’s escape from a farm and her peace-spreading journey to India. Bucky F*cking Dent, published in 2016, chronicles a father-son relationship via baseball and the unlikely 1978 tie-breaking home run by Yankee Bucky Dent.

Being a novelist may flow naturally for Duchovny. He is highly educated, with a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Princeton and a master’s degree in English literature from Yale. But he does not have as extensive a background in music.

Still, no Renaissance is complete without music. Duchovny, 56, started playing the guitar only a few years ago. He wrote lyrics at home, with his notable history of undergrad poetry-writing as a precursor. He crafted enough material for an album, found his singing voice and recorded in a studio with a band.

“I’ve always written poetry for better or worse and once I started playing music, I started thinking, ‘Gee, I should be able to write lyrics,’” Duchovny has said of his musical path. “And I just fell backwards into the whole thing. It’s just been a real pleasure in my life, regardless of who buys it and what people think of it.”

Hell or Highwater is a strong showing, classic rock with a bit of folk. Among the mid-tempo tunes are stand-out chord progressions. A favored pick on the album is "3000," which is reminiscent of “The Passenger” by Iggy Pop.

Heartfelt and literary lyrics are Duchovny’s pride, with songs observing prevalent themes including relationship struggles and rain.

“If you knew me you would stay / If you knew me you would walk away,” he croons in “Let It Rain." “The grey sky it threatens rain above / As our love it threatens pain, my love.”

Title track "Hell or Highwater" professes, “In the test of our love, darling / Yeah, if it’s multiple choice / I gotta mark none of the above.” It contains the frank line, “A man of words is a man of lies.”

He pokes at commercialism and an unlikely salesman in “Positively Madison Avenue."

“Jokerman takes off his mask / Reveals a car salesman at last / …Save me a place at the bar / Bobby Dylan was selling cars.” But Duchovny doesn’t take it too far, as he adds, “I really shouldn’t be throwin’ stones cause chasing spooks on Fox I made my bones.”

Duchovny’s latest roles include the NBC series Aquarius, and a recent revival of The X-Files. Plus, Twin Peaks is returning after 25 years, which reportedly means an appearance by detective Dennis/Denise Bryson. It is a wonder Duchovny has time for a tour. He will perform at Social Hall SF on February 15.

David Duchovny
Social Hall SF
February 15, 12017
8pm, $26

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