Dan Wilson: Live at the Pantages


RIYL: Semisonic, Better Than Ezra, Gabe Dixon

It may not hit you all at once, but the more you listen to and read about singer/songwriter Dan Wilson, the more you realize just how many cool friends and colleagues the guy has. It’s not that he co-founded rock band Semisonic and had some overnight success with “Closing Time,” or that he won a Grammy when co-writing some tracks from the Dixie Chicks’ 2006 album Taking the Long Way. Wilson has written with or is slated to write with the likes of Josh Groban, Adele, the Bravery, Keith Urban, Jason Mraz and KT Tunstall. But he is as riveting a solo performer as you’ll ever see and hear, based on his timeless songs and instantly recognizable voice.

While he’s between studio albums, fans of Wilson can enjoy the digitally-released Live at the Pantages, recorded in Wilson’s hometown of Minneapolis and featuring songs from his acclaimed Free Life album from 2007, as well as a few of the old Semisonic stand-bys. He begins with a solo acoustic set on guitar and piano and then comes back with a full band set, both with his voice and the songs front and center. You won’t find a live album anywhere this clean, sonically. And the songs are bordering on stunning – in particular when Wilson plays “Honey Please” from Free Life, or “Secret Smile” from the landmark Semisonic album, Feeling Strangely Fine. But here is what separates Wilson from any other singer/songwriter – the two brilliant co-writes her performs here—“All Will Be Well,” with Nashville roots rocker Gabe Dixon, and “One True Love,” written along with the great Carole King and first appearing on Semisonic’s All About Chemistry. If you don’t have goose bumps now, you will when hear Wilson sing the latter. In all, Live at the Pantages is a truly awesome storytelling effort. (Ballroom Music 2010)

Dan Wilson MySpace Page

  

The Silver Seas: Chateau Revenge


RIYL: Jackson Browne, Josh Rouse, The Gabe Dixon Band

What do you do when a band you love does the unthinkable? In the case of Nashville’s The Silver Seas, the unthinkable is one-upping their five-star worthy debut, High Society, and causing us to scratch our heads and wonder: do we give them six stars? Five and a half? We’ll have to settle on five and have you use your imagination beyond that. The point is, Daniel Tashian and company has returned with Chateau Revenge, and it’s once again a collection of songs that makes everything else you might be listening to at the moment seem like background noise. Tashian has a way with a hook, but he goes beyond crafting great songs with the help of the other Silver Seas – Jason Lehning, Lex Price and Dave Gehrke – to arrange them in a way that allows said songs to breathe. The result is a noticeable ‘70s bent complete with Tashian’s Jackson Browne-ish tenor and big harmony-drenched choruses. Two of the tracks in particular, “What’s the Drawback” and “The Best Things in Life,” are instant hits if they are released in 1976. In fact, on the former, Tashian sings about a woman who “likes the E.L.O.,” and the lyric is followed by strings reminiscent of the ‘70s icons. But that’s not to say The Silver Seas are hopelessly stuck in a time warp. “Jane” is a breezy, melodic, Josh Rouse-like toe-tapper, while “From My Windowsill” and “What If It Isn’t Out There” have a jazzy flavor. “Somebody Said Your Name” is a Jackson Browne-esque romp, and on “Those Streets,” the way the guitars and bass line marry is pure magic. Come to think of it, just about everything The Silver Seas do is magical, and the latest proof is that they have surpassed the brilliance of High Society with Chateau Revenge. (Self-release)

The Silver Seas MySpace Page

  

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