Danny McGaw – Set Me Free
Maybe what I like about this artist is his sincere songs & warm vocal approach. No bombastic performance, no silly country hick embellishments with hats, trucks, tight jeans, beer cans, mechanical bulls, overloaded peasant blouses, Tony Lama boots, bandanas, chewing tobacco & the like. Just country tales blended through a sincere rendering especially on the lost love tune “Crazy.” That title alone would lead one to believe it’s cliché-heavy with lines you’ve heard before — but it’s not. McGaw is careful with his art & writes with flare.
Ten cuts adorn the new Set Me Free (Drops July 22–Santa Barbara Records) from UK-born Danny McGaw, a former soccer player associated with the well-known rock band Three Dog Night (who he tours with live). Now living in California, McGaw had busked early in his career, met producer Terry Melcher (actress Doris Day’s son & producer of the Beach Boys & The Byrds) & produced Danny’s debut LP & Tim V. Hutton (bassist for Three Dog Night) produced his LP “On the Outside.”
“Cinderella,” a song about the fear of change is an impressive tune with an accessible melody, played with pop flavors & tinged with good guitars. Instantly likable.
“Hollywood,” is rock-driven & McGaw does a fine job transforming his rather country-influenced vocals into a formidable rocker voice. Nice diversification. It may be a little sweet in its approach – not necessarily Roger Daltrey or Mick Jagger – but it does have Canada’s Loverboy-type aggression. And that’s something.
Despite his UK birth, McGaw has acclimated himself to this Americana genre of music rather admirably. There’s nothing awkward here – everything is melodious & calm with little fanfare. Nothing stodgy.
I have no musician credit list, but McGaw is a multi-instrumentalist/producer, so I’m left to assume he played many instruments & produced the set. All songs were written in a tight manner with no throw-away words, antiseptic choruses’, or lame subjects.
I found many enjoyable throughout. McGaw takes his troubadour status seriously. Perhaps the only suggestion I’d offer is to explore a little edgier material, so he doesn’t fall into an easy-listening country market. And that’s something even the late Roger Miller did.
Color image by Kelley McDowell / B&W image courtesy of Santa Barbara Records. CD @ https://dannymcgaw.com/