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Glasgow singer-songwriter Daniel Wylie and his regular musical cohorts (Neil Sturgeon, Johnny Smillie, Stu Kidd) have once again graced the ears of listeners with a beautiful new record, one released at the trailing end of a deadly pandemic. How easy it would be to dismiss the overall tone as depressing, especially when dealing with tough subjects like domestic violence on “The Bruises and the Blood”. I love how this song starts off at a distance, as if Daniel is walking along the sidewalk with his guitar and moving closer as this sad tale unfolds. Yet, Daniel infuses his tales of woe with wonderfully upbeat, catchy melodies, a talent he has always employed but never so effectively as here. The lyrics will stick to you, especially ‘You can’t cover it with makeup’. And then the last part with piano and heavenly Beach-Boys inflected harmonies is glorious! The musical theme returns to its moody start, and imprints this darkly beautiful tune on your soul.
“Heaven’s Waiting Room” hits me rather hard, as I often wonder why people leave. We lived in a beautiful neighborhood with kids around the same age as mine, and then all the families were gone and replaced with strangers. It was not a place I wanted to live anymore. This song represents that sentiment, one that I think a lot of people experience, especially as the years wear on and friendships are formed. ‘Two houses for sale in the same street, houses that were occupied by friends of mine, why does everybody leave?’ Life is a rapidly revolving turnstile, and even when we want things to stay the same, we are all just sentient beings in “Heaven’s Waiting Room”. Very well done! And then there is the lilting bossa nova of ‘God Is Nowhere’, which enchants even as it hammers home Daniel’s message. One line refers to his sorrow over his Mom’s passing from cancer 5 years ago: “I said a begging prayer for your healing but God was Nowhere”. Think of all the horror around the world and you might feel similar sentiments. It makes it so much harder to find the light. But even while this sad-angry song is unveiled, you cannot help but be moved by the lush instrumental tapestry woven by his band. There is some very fine fretwork here from Johnny Smillie, accompanied by some equally fine vocal interplay from Daniel. I am almost reminded of Santana in a few spots! “Our Love Will Never Die” may be a romantic tribute to Daniel’s beloved wife Liz. It is very sweet and moving, and reminds us all how fleeting life is and that you just have to grab hold of your loved ones and make the most of what life has to offer during our brief time here. Lovely work!
“Ruth The Truth” starts off with fuzzed out, Crazy Horse vibe and the ‘I caught her lying again’ chorus will catch you immediately! It’s all about dumb men and the hold beautiful women have over them. It’s followed by the flowery orchestral pop of “Listen to the Sound of the Rain”, and boy, is it gorgeous! It is imbued with a profound respect and love for nature, which frankly, saved my sanity during the pandemic. Definitely a high point on this record! I like the rippling instrumentation, which resembles rain drops. “Red Sunset (Green Eyes)” is haunting, introspective orchestral pop, and when it hits the chorus, I am reminded strongly of REM. Another favorite on an already gem-studded release. “A Memory” seems to be about just that, how our memories impact us. ‘A memory came and I broke down again’, and the tune behind it will strike you hard with déjà vu, as in I swear I have heard something close to this before, but I cannot for the life of me remember what it is. So much for my memory! I also really dig the Crazy Horse vibe riding along with the guitars. ‘Saddle Up The Horses’ is a heartfelt tribute to cowboys and Westerns, and it ends the record on a sentimental high note. Once again, Daniel has blessed us with a wonderful, heartfelt record that will make your heartstrings quiver with its beauty and sadness. Highly recommended!
You can preorder the album here.
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