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Gary Dranow - Floating Away (self-released)

16 February 2024

Once again, proving that he can turn his hand to numerous styles of music and effortlessly master them, Gary Dranow brings us a lilting and lulling slice of country rock balladry. Although if the term ballad conjures images of anthemic torch songs and artists air punching to emphasize the crucial key change, then that isn’t the right word after all. This is something more natural, more nuanced, something that flows from the heart.

What we have is a real groover, light of frame and deftly built, spacious and acoustically driven, something more in keeping with the singer-songwriters of an earlier golden age. “Floating Away” feels like a modern take on a more early seventies, West Coast sound, the sort of thing that perhaps CSN or The Eagles might have had in their repertoire, only here injected with more space for the song to breathe, more room for the light to get in.

It is easy to associate Gary with a more furious rock guitar sound, whether drawing bluesy salvos from his six strings or playing up a storm in his more metal-infused moments. “Floating Away” shows he is just as deft with the acoustic guitar, especially when he runs a few smart and succinct electric lines through the middle of the song to add broader dimension and dynamics.

Some people define themselves by their instrument or the genre they are most closely associated with, happy to label themselves as a “rock guitarist” and the like. That’s fine, but I suspect Gary Dranow would be more content with merely being called a musician, someone at home with any number of styles and sounds, genres and instruments. Clearly, he is a man for all sonic seasons.