Any raw, down home and infinitely hipster-cool Americana artist bold enough to put singing “Disney songs into a turkey baster” as an early musical memory is bound to grab my attention.
If he’s transcended tragedy (the loss of his mother and stepfather in a plane crash) and can still spin humor amid the heartache in his infectious mix of slow burning ballads and rambunctious romps that get us (as one of his titles makes clear) “Feeling Good,” he’s worth ongoing emotional investment. And – this is a major, mega “and” – if he sounds like the gritty and rugged, alternately soul searing and fun loving second coming of Chris Stapleton, then he’s grabbing my musical heart for good.
A hearty follow-up to his dynamic EP Myself Through You, singer/songwriter Kevin Daniel’s full length album Things I Don’t See features three tracks tracks produced by Kenny Siegel (Langhorne Slim, Joseph Arthur, Chris Whitley) - the intense, metaphor rich title track ballad, the simmering, organ tinged blistering blues anthem of lament “Used To Be” and spirited, twangy country blues “Xanax, Cocaine & Whiskey.”
The other eight helmed by Ben Rice (who produced Mysel Through You and whose resume features Norah Jones, The Candles and Aoife O’Donovan) include a the compelling singalong “Pour Me a Drink,” a deeply felt, whiskey (but not cocaine!) drenched country/blues power ballad that finds Daniel in emotional escape mode, seeking refuge from life’s craziness in a drink that’s “sweet as a sunset/sweet as the day you were born,” poured “softly like the winds that blow through me.”
Other highlights include the jangling, punchy, gospel and steel guitar tinged “City That Saves,” the folksy, reflective acoustic gem “Time To Rise,” the smoky, slowly burning reflection “Jupiter” and the breezy, regret filled easy flowing acoustic number “Time To Rise” featuring Shannon Soderlund’s rich harmony vocals. A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, with infusive blasts of soul, roots, blues and some whimsical swirls of Appalachia, Kevin Daniel will be an influential figure in Americana music for years to come.