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Dan Wilson
Free Life
American Records
www.danwilsonmusic.com


We are all fully aware that Dan Wilson was the mastermind behind alt. rock darlings Trip Shakespeare and the ultrafine rock outfit Semisonic. We don't need anyone to remind us of that. Most of us also know that Dan Wilson has been spending his time producing some great records for other folks lately, helping out his friends and more… for a perfect example, check out the last Mike Doughty record Haughty Melodic. The facts are clear, people… Dan Wilson is a musical force that travels his own path, a path of beauty and clear songwriting and passion. Take a listen to the lead track from Free Life, "All Kinds", where Wilson affirms his own life directly with the sharply melodic refrain "Running all around, all around/ all kinds of beautiful." Free Life is filled with songs that mostly contain a clear, powerful melancholy that has at its center a very delicate hope and beautiful sadness. "Come Home Angel" is a perfect example of this phenomenon, with its softly arpeggiated piano and crisply strummed acoustic guitars providing the perfect canopy for the lyrics of hopelessful longing. "Baby Doll" is filled with a weird Vaudevillian jazz, trumping so many of the other newer "jazz" artists with the sheer force of the song's integrity and honest yearning. "Sugar" is a quieter acoustic number that very ably shows Wilson's ability to record instruments perfectly, creating crisp and clear layers of sound, gently underscoring his amazingly deep, yet simplistic, prose. "You've got all your glory to find someday/ set down with me let the time pass away/ when you're gone tomorrow very far/ you can remember me here where we are." Lead single "Cry" is the kind of song that made the musical world fall in love with Semisonic. The lyrics are concise and honest, falling gently over cascading piano and guitar that nicely pad the trademark Wilson melody line… this song is an instant classic.

Truth be told, if all music could cast this peculiar spell that makes the heart sing in a euphoria of happysad, then the world would be a much better and more understanding and loving place.

-L. Keane


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Mike Doughty



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