DAN REED – Confessions

For the last ten years or so, Dan Reed has been like an old friend, a neighbour or something like that, at least for us Swedes. For a guy that spent most of the 90’s and a great deal of the 2000’s in more or less oblivion, the guy have turned up very frequently  since 2008, especially here in Sweden and after his solo debut, the brilliant Coming Up For Air (2009) his visits became even more frequent. That said, you can probably guess how much we see of him now that he have resurrected his Dan Reed Network as well. Not that I’m complaining, Dan Reed is a brilliant performer be it alone with an acoustic guitar or when he slams things up with his buddies in the Network. Dan Reed Network’s reunion album Fight Another Day (2016) got some mixed reviews but in my book, the record is a grower and I think it’s an awesome record. Reed’s solo efforts, on the other hand has been a little up and down since Coming Up For Air. The follow-up Signal Fire (2013) held a high quality song wise and it was a little more upbeat, rocky and pop-laden than its laid back and melancholic predecessor, but Transmission (2016) left some to be desired in that department, even though I didn’t find bad at all. And now Reed gives us a fourth portion of his solo material and with a title like Confessions, one could guess that we’re given a personal, revealing record.

The album opens with “A Piece Of Home”, a soft, slow, melancholic ballad. The arrangement is taciturn and beautiful and even though it’s not exactly radio-hit material, the tune is very memorable. There’s a soothing main melody that feels almost tranquilizing and cozy. It sounds just as I expected it to but nothing negative about that as the song is brilliant, very Dan Reed sounding.  “Soul Survivor” is more upbeat and comes with a pretty steady rhythm. It’s a half-ballad with a kind of danceable beat. It’s also quite catchy melody wise and I think it’s a really good tune. The single “Smile” is a nice little pop song. It also sports a melancholic feel but it’s also comes across as positive. It’s a catchy tune and a very good single choice. “Day One” is a slow, smooth and chill pop ballad that has a melody that stuck in my mind from hello. A beautiful and warm song that brings along a feel-good touch. A very good song. We get another pop ballad in “Distant Star” that holds a poppy beat but the sampled drums doesn’t really fit. Still, the melody goes right under my skin in a good way. Good but not great.

Darkness comes with “Fragile” and the song actually sounds a bit, well, fragile actually, like it’s gonna crumble any second. The melody is very distinct but the song never really catches on. It’s not bad, but I find it only okay. On the other hand, “Cave In” is a brilliant number. It’s atmospheric and serene but holds a big arrangement and an almost bombastic outlook and a huge sound scape. My favorite track on the album. After some slowies, the more upbeat “Lift You Up” is very welcome. As many other songs here, it’s on the melancholic side but it’s still uplifting (sic), dark but still light, if that makes any sense. Very good indeed. But then it’s ballad time again. “On Fire” is a bit saddening but also very beautiful, very memorable and a chorus that catches on but it also have a positive vibe in all its melancholy. Slow is also the closing track “The Great Divide”, but it still grooves and the beat is even danceable. A memorable main melody and a catchy refrain makes this song a winner.

As you might have guessed, this is a very laid-back, pretty soft and melancholic album where no fast tunes or rockers has given any space at all. On one hand, it’s too laid-back and the songs sounds at many times a bit samey. On the other hand, everything sounds very much Dan Reed – the guy really have his own way to express himself and arrange and write songs – and I also guess that this is very much what is expected of a Dan Reed solo album. At least, I thought the record sounded pretty much as I had expected. Even though all the songs are good, it’s hard to set them apart, at least the first couple of spins. Maybe the album is supposed to grow on the listener and I dunno what I will think of it in a year or so, but for now I say that I like the album, but I don’t love it. Worth a buy? Sure, why not?

6/10

More Dan Reed reviews:

Transmission
Signal Fire
Coming Up For Air

Tracklist:

1. A Piece Of Home
2. Soul Survivor
3. Smile
4. Day One
5. Distant Star
6. Fragile
7. Cave In
8. Lift You Up
9. On Fire
10. The Great Divide

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