Dan Israel – Seriously
This set starts immediately with an expressive vocal fused with fluent mainstream finesse on “Happy For Now,” with all the right ingredients. A somewhat wild guitar solo is a nice contrast to the melodic drive & it works well. I like this.
There are moments when Dan Israel sounds like a rockier Randy Newman backed by the Rolling Stones. The title track “Seriously,” has a strong Stones influence & the band is as tight as a boxful of new rubber bands. Guitar riffs that are infectious with an instrumental interplay that’s engaging. It’s a concept that has its rewards. Israel really lets loose with a Joe Cocker growl at the conclusion. Pure excellence.
Even slower tracks like “How Do I?” have maturity. There’s nothing silly – each piece has a distinctive melody approach that’s well-produced. Recorded in Minnesota the 33-minute, 10-cut Seriously (Drops Dec 2–Independent) features Dan (vocals/acoustic & electric rhythm guitars with leads/rudimentary piano) on songs where he traverses seasonal change, escapism, true love, poignant commentary touching lightly upon personal & political issues without the vinegar.
While Dan certainly takes pages from artists such as Elvis Costello, Tom Petty & yes, Gerry Rafferty (“Take Off Again”). It’s an obvious mix with a touch of Israel’s own carefully stirred musical delicacy. Israel stays safely in his comfort zone & once an artist finds this it’s wise to just explore its possibilities. He’s not actually folky or alt-country but can be. He’s a singer-songwriter who knows his craft.
On “Set Each Other Free,” I don’t know why I hear a “lost” Beatles song here. But it has that Paul McCartney magic running through it liberally. It’s commercially viable & it’s not sugar-coated. The fact that “free” is in the title summons a bit of John Lennon tang. Funny how the ear interprets things.
Dan sings with confidence in each song & they suit his vocal style. He never overreaches & that may be the secret to his attractive repertoire. He has a descriptive lyrical style that is always perfectly married to his endlessly catchy music.
Dan does rock out a few times, it’s all energetic, tasty & well-arranged. “I Quit,” has some colorful language. The CD art was provided by Laura Bennett with a hat tip to vintage LP styles. Highlights: “Happy For Now,” “Seriously,” “How Do I?” “Set Each Other Free,” “Drove So Far,” “Take Off Again,” “I Quit,” & “The Hang of It.”
Musicians – David J. Russ (drums/vocals/percussion & orchestration on “How Do I?”), Mike Lane (bass/vocals/keys), Steve Brantseg (lead & rhythm guitars), Rick Mattson (guitars/bass/keys/percussion, harmonica), Peter J. Sands (organ/piano), John Eller (piano), Katie Gearty & Colleen Martin-Oake (harmony vocals). On “The Hang of It,” are Jon Herchert (lead guitar/bass/harmony), Ashleigh Still (harmony vocals) & John Fields (drums).