Danny Schmidt’s 10th studio album, ‘Standard Deviation’, continues to showcase the strength of his song writing capability, with diverse subject matter covering (among other topics) family, fatherhood, addict recovery, miscarriage and Dylan, all while maintaining a generally positive upbeat feel. The theme of family and friends features strongly throughout.
The joy of fatherhood is charmingly expressed on the opening track, ‘Just Wait Until They See You’….”I’ve seen the redwoods and the northern lights….Well, just wait til they see you”, and then again on ‘Blue-Eyed Hole in Time’. The pleasure of family time defines ‘Bones of Emotion’ and how us grown-ups should show the young ‘uns the right way forward, “Teaching the children the right teams from wrong”, and in ‘The Longest Way’, the past forgotten joy of a long, cross country drive is delightfully portrayed….“Now roads are straight, now they’re so fast you miss your fate, Give me bends and give me miles and miles of friends”
One standout track is ’Newport 65’ which focuses on how an artist’s own cultural identity is sometimes viewed on a different plane to the artist’s following. The artist in question is, of course, Dylan. References to shepherds and sheep and prophets and gods and crosses abound….”And admit that you’ve stripped your own god to the bone, And accept it that soon you’ll be praying alone, Like you never had listened at all”. It was 65 after all.
Other topics such as miscarriage (‘We Need a Better Word’ – enough said) and gentrification are sensitively but evenly handled, and there is even room for – as Schmidt himself describes – ‘a romance set in the multi-dimensional realm of theoretical physics, string theory, quantum mechanics, and descriptive statistics’. This album appears to have something for everyone.
These are the songs of the troubadour, the worldly-wise minstrel, sung with strength, intelligence and insightfulness. Simply crafted songs, yes, but with real understanding of each subject. Not an album with massive production values – to be expected, of course – but plenty of strings and beautiful harmonies and steel guitar all perfectly augment the strength of the songs. A lyrical work of art.