Daniel Carlson – Not a Drawing

Album Review | Folkwit Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

The advice that Daniel Carlson received during the making of his new album Not a Drawing was apparently ‘less Paul McCartney, more Pink Floyd’, although the songs here sound pretty much like lots of McCartney enhanced by Floyd gadgetry.  Imagine a tank-topped fool on the hill dancing around a ruined amphitheatre in Pompeii and it all will come clear.  The Chicago-born singer songwriter, who now oscillates between Amsterdam and New York City, thinks art, breaths art and probably devours art for breakfast.  Careful to ensure his songs are wrapped in sleeves designed by known artists, in this case Nayland Blake, who also came up with the album title, Carlson takes time to associate with such artists, together with video artists on each project, demonstrating a symbiotic relationship with the art world, which in turn seems to inform his own songwriting.  There’s a tendency to think of the songs as an artistic statement rather than just a bunch of good songs.  I expected to hear a sonar ping at the beginning of “All on Display”, the Floyd influence probably at its most obvious, yet in other places, Carlson’s songs can be compared to Jeff Lynne and surprisingly on “Everybody’s Dumb About You”, to Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, the Moog maestros behind some of Stevie Wonder’s finest work.  This said, Not a Drawing is essentially a song-based album, rich in melody and oddly appealing.