Kevin Daniel

REVIEW: Kevin Daniel “Been Here Before”


Kevin DanielBeen Here Before

Another good alt-country singer of no particular distinction is North Carolina’s Brooklyn-based Kevin Daniel (guitar/vocals) who has a wide-appeal as a strong barroom country rock connoisseur. While he doesn’t fit any one genre as a vocalist, (not as polished & edgy as Steve Earle or John Mellencamp) he has that whiskey-soaked beer chaser style that appeals to an audience looking for a Kevin Daniel.

“Single In the Center,” was unassuming at first. Then, this wonderful barroom upright piano (the excellent Brian Mitchell) kicks in & Daniel’s voice despite its limitations & hard lyrical pronunciations actually provided entertainment charm to the maximum.

Kevin remains within the same vocal tonality & unleashes a big beat tune with horns “Don’t See the Light.” This is a confection. Addictive. Kyle Snuffer (sax) & Alex Bradley (trumpet).

The songs on his new 12-cut CD Been Here Before (Independent-Drops July 11) are all likeable. It won’t shake your world like a Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash LP, but there’s an interesting tinge to the Daniel repertoire. There is indeed energy. While “Lovemares,” is a little grating due to poor recording techniques, “Lovemares II” makes up for it. It sounds rich like a Ramblin Jack Elliott tune. This is delicious with Neal Rosenthal who adds the closing pedal steel.

“My Oh My,” is a surprise with the plaintive added lead vocals of Ashleey Joy Hardee (co-producer) that is complimentary to Daniels’ voice. Excellent together. This sounds high-spirited. The tune itself is mindful of Colorado singer-songwriter Arthur Gee (Tumbleweed Records) & his self-titled LP that had many songs (“Plain Talk,” “Love Song 450,” & “Love Song 451,”) in this style. Joining Kevin & Ms. Hardee are Keith Harry (bass), Logan Jayne (drums), Steve Okonski (keys), & Jonathan Clayton (guitar).

Recorded in Brooklyn, NY “Blame Me,” is a bravura song with a nice Margo Valiente backup vocal & Neal Rosenthal (trumpet) with Brian (organ). All the musicians throughout are exceptional. Logan Jayne’s drums on “Sorrow Laden Song,” is particularly good. Kevin Daniel seems to get looser & better as the songs proceed. “Horizons” is another Brooklyn recording with Margo’s vocal back assuredly. Jon Ledeau’s lead guitar gallops along with old-fashioned beauty. Closing is “Dial Up Pain,” — a rousing strikingly good tune with a trumpet (not credited). Superb number. Good finale.

This guy Kevin Daniel is no amateur. He knows the ropes, has polish when he needs it, has vinegar too. He needs a producer to flesh out the songs better next time. This is a fine collection of wonderfully written & performed songs. I was delightfully surprised.

The 37-minute CD: Produced by Kevin Daniel with help (Sean Walsh, & Ms. Hardee). Color image courtesy of Kevin Daniel website.

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