Dan Raza – Two

Album Review | Deep River | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 3/5

Dan Raza has a fine and lyrical set of pipes with a depth that suggests someone who has lived beyond his years.  There is a rich blues quality and a Celtic lilt to his singing.  On tracks like “Silent’s The Night Wind” or “Don’t Shoot The Stars Down” there is a definite Waterboys, or less well known, Andrew White, or Van Morrison circa Veedon Fleece folk soul quality to the music.  Whoever is in his record collection, or whoever are his musical heroes, his delivery is compelling and holds your attention completely.  He has a voice that imbibes his lyrics with a lyricism and even a mysticism as he breathes and whispers the words with a jazz man’s sense of timing.  This is an album that you want kick back and to listen to staring into an open fire with a glass in your hand.  “Payday” with Barbara Bartz’s fiery fiddle, has buckets of that roots rock swagger that Mike Scott and his Waterboys do so well and more than a touch of Ryan Adams’ country punk vim.  In the wake of The Iraq War, Neil Young featured “Every Little Dog”, a track off Dan’s first album on his Living With War website.  Young’s connection with Raza’s songwriting and the fact that Geraint Watkins’ soulful organ and BJ Cole’s evocative pedal steel run right through the album demonstrate the classic contemporary feel of Dan’s material.  It also underlines the connection Dan Raza has made with seasoned musicians who have literally played with everyone who is anyone.  “Midnight And The Wine” has the feel and tempo of an early Eagles country rock number with Raza picking on banjo and BJ Cole’s ethereal Pedal Steel crying to the night.  “Still Can’t Believe You’ve Gone” is full of surprises, starting as a troubadour number with a great Ralph McTell like guitar part till it veers off beautifully into a wonderful English Rhapsody of uplifting horns and organ.  A divine feel good lullaby of a track.  “Shadowlands” breaks the gentle Celtic reveries a little, its big Neil Young guitar riff at the start and an uneasy drum beat grab your attention, Dan’s passionate vocal alternates with the guitar and a fiery violin to hold you on the edge of your seat till the song’s end.  “Galway Lights” closes the albums and illustrates its strengths, a heartfelt emotional vocal, a wonderful warm atmosphere that glows with an acoustic soulful intimacy, managing to feel fresh and hundreds of years old.  This is Dan’s second album and showcases the fact that vocally, musically and lyrically he is growing and maturing while making music that with strength and depth below its beautiful sparkling surface.  A recommended album and a recommended performer who deserves to be on your radar.  Fans of Van Morrison, Mike Scott, The Waterboys, Andrew White and the more organic Ryan Adams will find much to hold their attention here.