Dan Walsh – Verging on the Perpendicular

Album Review | Rooksmere Records | Review by Sheila Trow | Stars: 4/5

The definition of a ‘true great’ is for me, the one who makes it all seem so effortless, somersaulting, and floating through the air whilst landing perfectly, wobble free, just as though little energy, and hours of practice were uninvolved. The technical skill in Dan Walsh’s Verging on the Perpendicular is patently obvious, but the superb writing, in this eclectic range of tracks, takes the crown. “Chase Suite”, a slow, intricate, and lyrical piece, is one such track that certainly soars, and is a self-penned contemporary masterpiece! Ultimately Dan’s sequence of songs and tunes, is rich in diversity, offering a look back to his roots, in a tender rendition of an old Irish folk song, “The Suilin”, and a look forward in “Want What You Don’t Have”, one of his own songs, where he surely shines both lyrically and vocally. Dan is an exceptional musician, with an obvious love of his main instrument, the banjo. He plays superbly, and has an undeniable desire to demonstrate the banjo’s versatility, never more so than on “Funky Haystack” a raw track that fair scuttles along, to a percussive back beat. Subtle rhythm sections and the occasional vocal harmony are rare, yet simply beautiful additions to these original arrangements and unique compositions making this a truly authentic and finely balanced piece of work. Dan has a combination of musical talent and well-honed craftsmanship. He manages an unblemished approach to every track and there’s a real sense that nothing is left to chance. “Leave This Land”, a blue grass piece written by Dan to acknowledge his sadness on leaving New Zealand reflects his love of American roots music, and speaks of his desire to return to a place that became home. We also encounter traditional folk, a pair of 7/8 tunes, jigs, several new songs, and yet somehow in Dan’s safe hands, they all hang together perfectly. If you love the banjo, often accompanying a true and honest voice, then you’ll love this CD, and if you don’t usually enjoy banjo music, then in a very short time, be assured, you will grow to love this very fine offering.