Raw State by Dan Whitehouse

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I had not heard of Dan Whitehouse prior to this review (there’s so much music going on in the world, it’s sometimes hard to keep up) but I was attracted to hear this album firstly because he’ll be supporting Simone Felice from The Felice Brothers, whom I love; and secondly watching a preview trailer in which I heard some luscious harmonies and slide guitar (from BJ Cole).

I received my copy of the album in the post and they were kind enough to send the proper album not just a promotional copy, it had the leaflet with lyrics, which I really appreciated. This is Dan’s third album and he bio is scattered with kind words from tastemakers and associations with some big names. Evidently I’ve been missing something here.

The album sounds glorious. Beautiful rich tones and harmonies, that sound like they were grown in a field in spring. I will always have a soft spot from music that utilises vocal harmonies such as The Eagles, Crosby Stills & Nash, Fleet Foxes and so forth. This album creates a similar ambience, which is warming like an auditory fireplace in my dinning room.

When I read through the playlist my eye was immediately drawn to Maybe I Too Was Born To Run because I assumed it was a reference to Bruce Springsteen. I would confidently say that this is the strongest song on the album for me as the titular hook is clearly present and well executed.

http://shop.dan-whitehouse.com/track/maybe-i-too-was-born-to-run-2

What disappointed me about this album was that most of the songs lack a coherent structure. They wander from one idea to another with no clear concept being surmised (except Maybe I Too…). The lyrics are very much based upon on thoughts and feelings, and lack any solid details, which is something I enjoy in a lot of lyrics (Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and The Felice Brothers). It’s those details that draw the pictures in my mind, where I can see, hear, smell, taste and feel the world through the song. But such lyric writing is something I hold in very high regard, whereas many others would not.

The lowest point was the spoken word parts of My Heart Doesn’t Age, which was trying far too hard to be poignant and failing.

Although I am not won over by this album I would still see him live to see how that sound translates, especially with Simone Felice. He plays The Cluny tonight (28th November) so if you go let me know how it went.

Reviewer: Chris Whiting

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