Daniel Daniel - The Lonesome Hollow (2018)
The Lonesome Hollow comes across like the soundtrack to some pulp novel drama, and why shouldn’t it, the songs sound as if they’ve fallen from the sky, with many of the numbers coming to life as if they’ve been lifted from some half forgotten yellowed newspaper that’s been sitting on the counter in an off the beaten path diner for longer than anyone can remember.
Daniel’s got a great new voice, and he brings these songs to life sounding as if he’s an observer, a spectator, watching these stories play out as he’s singing them, seemingly unsure himself which directions they’ll take with each word that tumbles from his lips. His songs are not from anywhere within arms reach, they’re all from distant places and times gone by, places like Phoenix, Arizona, so steeped in romanticism that you’ll feel you’ve stepped back into a time when everything slowed down in the middle of the day, window curtains barely moving on a warm breeze, and folks sitting quietly lost in their own, and often dark thoughts.
Of course, just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, a song such as “Darkness” filters in, laced with Beach Boy harmonies and tender longing for something that needs to be forgiven … but then, all of the songs on this album are enticingly out of place, out of step, and infused with unrealized emotional dreams, along with hazed memories that are held just out of reach. The music’s not raw, but it does ride close to the bone, born of the rootsy earth, as riveting and absorbing as listening in on someone else’s conversation, filled with moody mystery and perfect pitch.
There’s an honesty to The Lonesome Hollow, much of that due to Mike Piersante, the engineer who worked with The Coen Brothers on the film “Oh Brother Where Art Thou,” T-bone Burnett, Elton John, and the likes of Adele, along with the band Civil War, where Piersante capitalizes on the richness and deep register of not only Daniel’s voice, but his vision, bringing to mind the more tender works by Willie DeVille. These are songs from the outer regions of alternative country music, delivered with a lo-fi quality, yet on further exploration, as the stories themselves deepen, so does this cleanly defined music, becoming more rich and lightly textured with an intensity that’s been evenhandedly held in cheek.
There’s much to love here, there’s much to be re-investigated on future listens, with The Lonesome Hollow settling into that deeply romanticized part of our lives we seldom reveal to ourselves, yet alone to others. But I feel I’ve made this sound like the album’s got no muscle, because it does, it’s just that Daniel flexes that muscle at just the most opportunistic moments, spinning you on your boot heels as if to say, “Pay attention, you’re hearing something necessary.”
- Jenell Kesler
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