Friday, September 18, 2009
It’s not often you find a truly unashamed pop artist. One that still believes in the golden age of piano pop and writes songs filled with melancholic observations and self-loathing sung eyes closed, heart on sleeve without resorting to cliched turns of phrases, clever word play or the dreaded jaded disdain for the world around him. Somehow, after thirteen years of ups & downs, that's exactly the feel I get from Toronto ex-pat, Dan Bryk.
His story is long and full of stumbles, but it hasn’t impacted Dan’s writing. His new record Pop Psychology has been in the making for a while now and is a treasure that few will unearth, but one that will be held tight by all that take the time to listen. I know that sounds like hyperbole, and maybe it is, but there is something precious about how Bryk sees the world that has raised him up only to drag him down. His thoughts are crisp and clear, attacking himself and the industry that he relies on, but never resort to the piss and vinegar of the besieges so many artists especially now that the music industry gets less and less stable.
Nowhere is this more clear than the honest admissions that flow through the beautiful My Alleged Career. Artists rarely admit they dream of fame and often look down on those that get the chance to live the dream, but Dan isn’t jealous. Sure he wishes it worked out different, but instead of thinking he’s better than those jumping past him or fixating on the issue, he simply wishes he got his turn too. It’s a bizarrely honest and refreshing point of view from a struggling artist, but one that makes you feel like you can trust the words Dan delivers when he sits behind the piano to play.
And playing piano is something Bryk does quite well. His lush pop songs are layered nicely and steel and horns that accentuate his charming vocals making the whole morose effort palatable. No one wants to hear someone bitch and moan for 45 minutes, but the pleasant notes and deprecating humor makes surprisingly enjoyable. His blues and grey take on all the colors of the spectrum as he dissects record exs, street teams but mixes it all with – and sorry to use this term – humorous, fat guy self loathing.
There are few poppers out there that can use a piano and some instruments to lure you in to personal stories - Ben Folds used to be one before he rocked too many suburbs - of failure, but Bryk succeed where countless fail. From a selfish point of view, I'm sort of happy his struggles continue, that his wife bitches he can't pay the rent and he continues to doubt his worth, because if everyone realized his talent, we'd be left with a big void.
MP3:: Dan Bryk - My Alleged Career