Michael Buckner, Getty Images They're over a month early, but Chely Wright's twins…
- Posted on Jul 19th 2010 6:00PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
Danny Michel is the consummate DIY troubadour -- sometimes it seems like the veteran Ontario singer-songwriter barely stops to breathe, given his tireless touring schedule and recording output. Released earlier this month, Michel's effervescent new album, 'Sunset Sea', is his eighth full-length to date in a lengthy career that's seen him lauded by the likes of guitar great Alejandro Escovado and touted as an undiscovered national treasure by the press.
While Michel continues to fly under the mainstream's radar, in many ways, he's long been a poster child for the kind of independent spirit currently fueling the music biz, cultivating a sizable, adoring fanbase through extensive touring and word-of-mouth and releasing his music on his own terms. And while he's savvy about his workmanlike approach to his career, one also gets the sense that Michel continues to plug away at his craft for the sheer love of music.
In fact, Michel sounds positively energized on 'Sunset Sea' -- recorded all over the map (Canada, the U.S., Belize, Costa Rica, Holland), it seems fitting that the record was mostly written in Belize, as the songs boast a bright, tropical vibe that incorporates shades of reggae, soul, and even Afrobeat into Michel's usual folk/pop palette.
The best of the short-but-sweet eight-track release is the delightful 'Who's Gonna Miss You?', which sets Michel's characteristic raspy vocals to a jaunty acoustic guitar melody that practically winks at you as it strums along. But lest that sound like predictable singer-songwriter fare, just wait -- along comes the horn section to punctuate the rhythm like a gleeful exclamation mark.
While Michel can always be counted on to deliver a catchy number, 'Miss You' is a particularly sneaky earworm of a summer jam that underscores his pop instincts -- just try not to nod your head or tap your toes as the tune gathers momentum.
By the time the chorus rolls in, there's so much going on that it's almost tricky to take it all in, but the impeccable production (Michel, a skillful producer who often helms his own material, worked with Grammy Award-nominated producer Mark Stockhert this time around) somehow manages to highlight every distinct bit of instrumentation (listen for the scrape of the guiro!) in a way that suggests it all has its place.
The hooks are there, but so is the storytelling -- Michel has always had a knack for a nice turn of phrase, and 'Miss You' is full of his clever wordplay: "Did you live it right/Or did you live it wrong/Who's gonna miss you when you're gone?" he wonders on the chorus, which serves as the centrepiece for the rest of the canny lyrics.
By the time some Afro-chant-style backing vocals and one final blast of brass caps things off, the tune's blown by so quickly that one immediately wants to hear the entire thing again. Miss it when it's gone? Nah -- we're too busy pressing re-play.
Download: Danny Michel, 'Who's Gonna Miss You?' (MP3)