Daniel Gadd “About Strange Lands and People”

Independent, 2023

Dreamy introspective folk.

The new album by Daniel Gadd has a very distinctive sense to it. It feels very reflective. almost worthy, as if listening to it will do you good.

Gadd is in his early thirties, a South African currently based in London where the album was recorded. All ten tracks here are self-written. Previously he has worked on a number of soundtracks, notably ‘Bruce Lee and The Outlaw’ which shows through in his work. Despite being a very paired-back album, he does bring a cinematic quality to it. They are songs and stories are told through a very distinctive lens.

It is difficult to listen to ‘About Strange Lands and People’ without referencing Leonard Cohen who is obviously a huge influence both in subject matter and style. The opening guitar on ‘Shepherd’s Star’ sounds as if he is about to cover ‘So Long Marianne’. He obviously doesn’t but it’s very easy to make the comparison throughout. The female backing vocals on ‘Can’t Stop the Leaves’ which deals with the specific time a relationship breaks down are highly evocative of The Webb sisters.

One of the most interesting songs is the title track which is spoken, reminding you of John Cale’s delivery on ‘Songs for Drella’. It is a homage to Bob Dylan’s poem ‘Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie’ and works very well.

This may read like the album is very derivative which isn’t the case. It is consistently interesting throughout, although a occasional change of pace may be welcome to some. Mojo and Mark Radcliffe both compared the feel of his first album to that of Bon Iver. The fact he is being compared to Cohen and Cale means he may be in very interesting musical company indeed. It will be very fascinating to see where he goes with his next album.

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