REVIEW: Kevin Daniel’s “Things I Don’t See” Burns Bright With Good Will and Good Times


 On Things I Don’t See, Kevin Daniel establishes himself as the heir to country-tinged good-time barroom rock throne. At times reminiscent of the Silver Bullet Band’s working man’s rock ethos, Daniel’s big baritone bellow could give Bob a run for his money. The North Carolina born, Brooklyn based Americana crooner Daniel sings of life, death, sin, and salvation with radio ready familiarity that is polished to a new and improved shine. The hooks, builds, and double choruses are all in place, but the lyrics are what shine through when the arrangement is peeled away.

Things I Don’t See was recorded at both Degraw Sound where Ben Rice handled production and Old Soul Studios with Kenny Siegel at the helm; a variety of accomplished musicians support throughout. Somewhere between things that are and aren’t seen Daniel and his band find a way that burns bright with good will and good times.

Album opener, “City That Saves,” sets the stage for what’s to come well. Daniel howls over the moody bounce of a restrained rock band core augmented by horns and organ as the energy builds and Daniel sings about, “writing love songs to the city that saves, hallelujah till she washes away.” “Feelin’ Good” is shot through with a western lope as Daniel ponders the traveler dichotomy to go or stay, to indulge or restrain; is it bad to feel good? “Long road, rough home, it’s all, we’ve known, whatever helps me feeling soo good, didn’t end up like I thought it would,” he sings.

“Used to Be” bristles with country rock anthem vigor while the title track, “Things I Don’t See,” ebbs and flows with the emotions of an open hearted confrontation with an anxious mind. “It’s the things I don’t see that hurt me the most, imagine sad endings I’ll never behold, dark things will happen, non-memories unfold, takes the time and the terror, the giving and the gold,” Daniel admits.

“Jupiter” fully embraces Daniel’s ‘50s era rock-n-roll tendencies via a Roy Orbison arrangement overlaid with a fevered dream lyric turned confessional as Daniel sings, “We’re looking at the stars, maybe Jupiter or Mars, the only time I’m calm, is when I drink till I am numb, one day I’ll go too far.”

“Xanax, Cocaine, and Whiskey” is a traditional country two-step while “Name of Fame” is a front porch high-stepper. This collection closes with the open road embracing bounce of “All I Need” replete with pedal steel lines and a bass thump that recalls New Riders of the Purple Sage. Daniel sings, “I wish I had a reason to live and let go, if I had a reason you’d give me one more, perhaps maybe one day you’ll look up and see, but even if you never it don’t matter to me.” A kind of reconciliation with where he has been, where he is, and where he is going, Things I Don’t See lays out an inviting road map.


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