On his thirteenth album and the first release since Minnesota based singer/songwriter, Dan Israel quit his job and became a full-time musician in a world of uncertainty. Simplistically the album title You’re Free reflects freedom from the constraints of a job. In fact, the whole album is a reflection of now through Dan’s eyes as he explores personal, political and cultural crises that are shaping his and our world. This feeling that we are in transit hurtling through a world beset with changes that we have a feeling will not create a better place. This theme is colouring and shaping the soundscape as the artist explores the world and all its complexities.
The album is fuelled with his own personal mid-life crisis or that moment when you know you have to take a chance to shape your life and reflect who you are. Through his music once again Dan Israel is making a statement across the eleven tracks with the help of fine musicians augmenting his guitars and vocals, creating an Americana album full of varied textures and tones. The songs look on the darker side of life not the happy sunlit valleys of a utopian dream out of reach. Here we explore the grimness of real life as we hit challenges and overcome them.
Opening with Gets You Through It, we step onto the musical journey of the album. The drumming beats out a relentless path of determination. The song is sung to you directly take the time out and listen to the lyrics and you will find a rainbow however dark the moment. The title track goes up-tempo with a bouncy melodic undertone and harmonises as Dan is joined in a duet and the fiddle is superb. You’re Free celebrates the joy and wonder of snapping the chains and breathing in new opportunities as you choose your new path. A title track that uplifts.
Do not expect new sonics, to be surprised this is an album that builds on the talents that are the signature of Dan Israel. Singing and songwriting is the core, reflecting his self-acclaimed influences of Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. That said, expect the tempos and beats to change and Long Gone Dream does just that, slightly distorted, with tribal beats and deepening tones this is a short track and a highlight of the album for me.
Another highlight is Someday You’ll Say that has the guitar at the heart of the track with vocals soaring above, as he realises it “takes a lot to win” this is a number looking forward with optimism tinged with reality that the road will be interesting and fun too captured in a few minutes of electric sound that is controlled fitting in seamlessly within the track. With a ballad weaving through the soundtrack of If I Didn’t Have You, Dan’s vocal has a yearning richness contrasting with Katie Gearty’s vocals. This is a love song that has an authenticity in the vocal delivery, lyrics and melodic interest from the steel guitar.
Closing out the album with Porch Strom, we are treated to an instrumental that paints pictures in your mind through the shaping of the instrumentation. The guitars are the waft and weave providing a certainty and lifting your spirits that the darkness of life will not overcome you. The rainbow, opportunity and fulfilment is out there for you to capture.
Dan Israel’s latest album You’re Free, gives you an insight into life and your own fragilities and challenges. Americana style is the perfect foil for the lyrics as we join Dan in his journey and there are some fine moments that make the album a worthwhile listen. On the plus side with every listen you hear a new line or instrument so the musical journey is not one you only want to experience once.
SEVENdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Gets You Through It
- You’re Free
- Back To You
- Long Gone Dream
- Make This Life Mine
- Feeling Better
- Someday You’ll Say
- If I Didn’t Have You
- Stay on the Run
- Soul Will Be Found
- Porch Storm
Dan Israel – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, lead vocals
David J. Russ – drums, bass, piano, lap steel, cello noise, percussion, keyboards, backing vocals
Rich Mattson – electric guitar, guitar solos, bass, piano
Mike Lane – bass
James Tyler O’Neill – keyboards, Fender Rhodes
Peter J. Sands – Hammond organ
Katie Gearty – backing vocals
Jillian Rae – violin
Dave Hill – drums (kind courtesy of Vitamin Brown)
Jenny Russ – backing vocals
Paul Odegaard – trumpet
Randy Casey – slide guitar and baritone guitar
Additional vocals on Make This Life Mine contributed by – Jeffrey Duncan, Gina Frances, Tim Francis, Mike Goldberg, Mike Haldorson, Kellie Nitz, Sydney Patrick, Madison Pugh, Jeff Schuller, Brenda Shepherd, Karen Skaja, Rob Stealcheat, Jim Strachan, Gigi Stroncek, Mischa Suemnig, Andrew Thomas, and Aaron Trooien