Friday, February 8, 2008

Reviews:: Daniel Ledwell - Two Over Seven

I've reviewed plenty of the albums that have come out of Halifax in the last couple years, but I've rarely been as sure about people liking an album when they hear it as I am about Dan Ledwell's debut solo album, Two Over Seven. This is a little odd, as Ledwell's brand of alt-country inspired melancholy isn't normally something I would gravitate to. But there's something so appealing about the album that it was hard not to be taken in by it after hearing only the first couple songs. The heartbreak on the album feels so authentic at times that it seems Dan's voice is about to crack with emotion. Almost makes me want to give him a hug. I mean it would be a manly, "buck up champ!" sort of a hug, but a hug no less.

Anyway, I mentioned this is Daniel's debut solo album, but he's also known as the keyboard player for Halifax indie rockers In-Flight Safety. On the surface, Dan's solo work doesn't have much in common with the sweeping, almost anthemic, rock produced by his band - which is generally focused on large-scale, abstract issues like paranoia and the general ills of the world at large. The songs on Two Over Seven are much more personal than that, focusing in on relationships, specifically the range of emotions experienced when someone commits their whole heart to someone, and that someone boots their heart like a soccer goalie.

Where I do see a parallel between this album and Dan's work with In-Flight Safety is in the area of song construction. The songs on In-Flight Safety's last album, The Coast Is Clear, have a very dense, layered sound. Although Dan's album is much quieter and mainly focused on acoustic guitar, he augments his songs with a number of other instruments, filling any empty spaces with lap steel, banjo, glockenspiel, cello, keyboard, and the odd trumpet. This results not only in a great sounding album, but also in a sound more rich and textured than you would expect from an album Daniel performed and recorded alone in his bedroom. That makes it sound like he's some kind of shut-in, which isn't what I'm implying, I'm simply repeating what I've been told about the album's DIY creation. Further to that point, I think it's worth mentioning that Dan played all those instruments himself, which is always impressive to someone like me, who has yet to master the plastic Playskool guitar the Ack gave my son for Christmas.

Taken in order, the seven songs on the album describe the last days of a small town romance. The wistful Daisy, You Are A Liar opens the album and finds Daniel pondering the faithfulness of the lovely Daisy over a combination of synths, acoustic, lap steel, and xylophone plinks. It's a great way to set the stage for the rest of the album. I'm thinking the fact that this album has come out on Emm Gryner's Dead Daisy records is merely a coincidence, as I'm sure that Daisy will be very faithful to this album. Little River Run is the beautiful beginning of the end as Daniel tells his love to follow her heart, even if it leads her away from him. Such a melodic song, from the vocals to the guitar playing, and the faint trumpet and xylophone at the end of the song is really a nice detail. Check the end of this post for the live version of this song I recorded at this year's In The Dead Of Winter festival, it's a great rendition, almost spot-on with the album version.

The album's centrepiece, both figuratively and literally is the very catchy I Have Made You A Mixed Tape, an ode to the time honoured tradition of wooing someone with a memorex mashup of their favorite songs (in this case intended to win back the affections of his lost love). It start out fairly simple with Rose Cousins joining Dan for some very nice harmonies over strummed guitar, but as the song builds, some well-placed cello, keys, and what sounds like a mandolin solo fill things out. Simply a great song, everytime I listen to it I'm humming it for the next hour or so, and yes, it's bound to end up on many, many mix tapes in the future (just remember which mix you saw it on first!). Rose Cousins joins Daniel again on the heartbreaking Gone For Good, one of the only (perhaps the only) the song on the album that features drums, but it's also a great example of how melodic this album is, despite the sadness found in most of the songs.

That's likely enough of my waffle, in case it hasn't come through yet in my ramblings, I'm a big fan of this album. Dan has the perfect voice for these songs, even if the album was called Two Over Seventy I doubt I would get tired of listening to it. Perhaps I say this too much about Halifax albums, but this is one I strongly suggest you check out. Zunior has a bonus track available when you buy the album from them, or you can simply purchase it from the convenience of the handy xiteplayer below.

myspace :: web :: label :: buy it

MP3:: Daniel Ledwell - Little River Run (Live @ IDOW 2008)
MP3:: Daniel Ledwell - I Have Made You A Mixed Tape

Posted at 10:38 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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