Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Morning Coffee:: Dan Craig is a new man

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It's been a while since I sat down on the computer on a Sunday morning. Between moving, trying to buy a house and countless other things, I just haven't had the time I need each day. But, a got a CD in the mail from Dan Craig, a musician we reviewed last year, and I wanted to see how his sound had changed. His last record, Wirebirds, showed potential and I'm happy to see he's found a style that is going to define him.

From te first track, it's obvious that Craig's new record - Skins Grows Thin - showcases a much more mature sound. He uses a fuller sound (the horns, strings, mandolin and female vocals - courtesy of Erin Donovan - on No Rain Tonight are a perfect example), but I think the biggest change is the new found confidence. Instead of chord progressions and strums that seem to be formed on a simple idea and somewhat familiar, he's trying hard to form his own sound.

Instead of forcing another instrument into the mix to fill a void, Dan is writing songs that are complete thoughts regardless of how much accompaniment is added (Goodnight Darlin' is one of the most stripped down tracks on the record, but also one of my favorites). It might seem simple, but as the violin and Rhodes dance around his words on Breaking Hearts Tonight, he throws in a simple, group hand clap, everything just comes together.

I would imagine that has something to do with the title of his record, but I think Dan's finally made the decisions that let him leave his doubts behind and truly open up his listeners. Finally settling into the life of a full time musician, he's left behind his other calling (med school) and it's really obvious that he's spending hours playing as opposed to studying. He's no longer worried what people think and as a result, each strum seems (even the most gentle) seems to be a defiant push forward. He's happy to stand behind his music, even if people think he's "just a local star."

Unlike his last record, it's easy to find songs worth talking about - like the maracas led Skin Goes Thin or the nice piano backed sounds of So Strong - but more importantly it's harder to find fall songs that fall short (although How You Want Me Again fits that description). Again, I'm not trying to push Craig into a realm that he isn't deserving of, but if you enjoy the softer side of the strum, female harmonies and strings laced tracks you will be happy you took a chance on this record. Craig's made a big jump from an ear pleasing bar room accessory to a songwriter and I'm now looking forward to see how far he can run with this. He's found a voice and style that works for him, and if he starts taking some risks and improving his sound, Dan Craig is going to be a name more than herohill knows.

Posted at 8:05 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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