One of my favorite labels, Six Shooter, has managed to shoehorn four top-shelf releases into a incredibly small two month window. Dubbing it the Autumn of Awesome, fans can get new albums from Whitehorse, Danny Michel, Jenn Grant and Amelia Curran. That’s as beautiful as watching the leaves change, folks.
Our love for those artists is well documented, but with the signing of Danny Michel, the Six Shooter is expanding their sonic foundation. Michel, one of Canada’s most respected songwriters, reinvented himself with the release of Sunset Sea, an album influenced by and recorded in Belize. Michel embraced the people and sounds of the Central American country and the result was a transformation that energized Danny as an artist and humanitarian.
Michel returned to Belize to record Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me, and instead of walking around with eyes and ears opened by new experiences, he found comfort and community. Danny integrated himself with the people of Belize – raising over 30K to send kids to school – and collaborated with local musicians to further define his new sound.
Michel can still write songs that tug at the heartstrings and pine for the purest of loves (“A Cold Road” and “The First Night” deliver the emotion so many roots outfits try to replicate), but with the infusion of island rhythms and socially conscious material, the songs crackle with energy and life. Sure, Danny and the collection of Belizian musicians find funky, lighthearted melodies to lighten the mood, but Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me far from a steady gust of warm tropical breezes; Danny’s words hit with impact and when the band extends it’s stride (case in point, “Into The Light”, “Break It You Buy It”), you feel the movement of political activity and the coming together of the people.
Michel sings of repercussions, both personal and global, but he doesn’t bark orders or make threats. No, Michel simply asks us to act responsibly as human beings and leave the world a better place than we found it. Right now, we are failing at both, but with champions like Danny Michel, there is hope. The fact the message is delivered through infectious melodies, driving percussion and flourishes of horns just makes it that much easier to digest.