Dan Israel “Seriously”

Independent, 2022

Heartland rock for the lives we lead. Seriously.

This is workmanlike rock and roll. This is hometown hero music, the soundtrack to falling in love, breaking up, going under and making a comeback. his is solid, polished musicianship matched with lyrics that tell personal stories. This is Americana; music that reflects a time and place that the audience knows intimately. And while evocative of a lot of other bands, it is original. This is music from the heart, and the heartland. That’s not to say it isn’t ever transcendent and that it never touches universal themes.

This is Dan Israel’s 17th studio album. He has been sharpening his skills as he moved from Minnesota to Chicago, then on to Austin and eventually back home to Minnesota. Over the years he has established his place as a major figure on the regional music scene. He’s been called the “the hardest working singer-songwriter in Minnesota.” And his love of music and dedication come through on this album. Dan and his band – drummer David J. Russ, bassist Mike Lane, and guitar wizard Steve Brantseg – create solid rock. They are well-versed in the genre. The wailing guitar, drums and base are ever present, even as they create an individual sound that matches the stories told through the lyrics.

It’s music for the couple sitting at the bar at Palmer’s in Minneapolis listening to ‘How Do I’ while trying to make it work. And while the orchestration may be a bit more than the song calls for, it’s a keeper; a love song for those beyond teenage infatuation.

‘I Quit’ is a rock song for anyone in a brain-deadening job.  It could be the anthem of every eCommerce warehouse in the world. It fits on the shelf next to ‘Take This Job and Shove It’.   It has the requisite simple beat and guitar solo for the guys in St. Cloud to sing along. And they would all understand the need to sometimes just move on expressed in ‘Take Off Again’.

The song ‘Seriously’ exhibits Israel’s love of classic rock. The guitar makes the song a stadium anthem, helped by background vocals that sound like the Stones’ ‘Sympathy For the Devil’.  Yet the lyrics are personal, reflecting, as Israel says, the reality of being “inspired by a lot of things going on in the world (how about the daily news, every damn day?).”

Occasionally, the lyrics and the music stand in contrast, as if Israel’s rock star inclinations are at odds with his maturity and experience. He writes songs with all the energy of a teenage garage band but the words reflect someone who is world-weary but willing. In the ‘The Hang of It’, he sings, “Yeah, I ain’t ever gonna quit, no I can’t stop now, just got the hang of it, no I can’t stop now.”

‘Seriously’ is a reminder of how much great music is being played in bars, pubs and clubs and how the best music reflects back to the audience the reality and importance of ordinary lives.

8/10
8/10

About Michael Macy 22 Articles
Grew up in the American Midwest and bounced around a bit until settling in London. Wherever I've been, whatever I have done, has been to sound of Americana. It is a real privilege to be part of this site, discover new music and write about it.

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