Reviews:: Danny Michel Sunset Sea

There are two ways to vacation when it comes to remote, tropical destinations. Most head to an all-inclusive and master a few key phrases like “dos cerveza por favor” or “muy bueno” as you soak up the sun without abandoning the comforts of western civilization, but for the lucky few that try to immerse themselves in local life, the adventure is much more rewarding.


The same can be said when song writers experiment with tropical styles and influences. Every coffeehouse is littered with young men trying to channel Paul Simon or tap into Bob Marley’s reggae up-strums in some over polished manner, but ironically, it’s not until a songwriter drifts off the beaten beach-y path and is truly inspired by what they’ve seen and heard when they travel abroad that the music starts to speak to the masses. On Danny Michel‘s eighth LP - Sunset Sea - the sunshine certainly influences his melodies and even when his more traditional roots still shine through (the album closer is a folky duet with Sarah Harmer that could have slid in on any of Michel’s earlier releases) they are brightened with strings, punchy horns, and even xylophones, but it’s how he embraces the community feel inspired by the people that live outside of the gated complexes that makes a record that’s more than just another exercise in escape.


Even when the record feels lighter than air (like “Norma Desmond” and the infectious opener, “Maybe You Can Find It In Your Heart”), outside of “Wish Willy” they never drift into simple daydreaming of an easier life filled with boat drinks and afternoon smoke. Michel leaves a rough exterior on his songs, giving the effort a realistic grit that’s more inline with the people actually making the music in these locations. Whether it’s the stellar transformation of “Switchman” from a muscular, dark bar room to an afrobeat infused spaceout or the subtle, Joe Strummer working class reggae vibes that creeps into the scathing “Who’s Gonna Miss You When You’re Gone”, you get a sense of how much the people, not just the vacation impacted Michel’s song writing. Like so many fantastic island acts, Michel is able to separate the fantasy from the reality, and makes this sunshine ready record less of a vacation and more like a shift in the way he looks at life. It also gives the listener something to think about, instead of leaving them pining for a life where they don’t have a concern in the world.


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MP3:: Danny Michel - Who’s Gonna Miss You?




This entry was posted on Monday, July 12th, 2010 at 4:24 pm and is filed under 2010, Canada, Music, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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