Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Music Review - Daniel Amos - Dig Here Said The Angel

I just happened to listen to this album earlier today, plus it's still on my MP3 player. It doesn't get much play but when it does I surely dig those amazing bass lines!

It’s been over 10 years since the last Daniel Amos album. Not that lead songwriter Terry Taylor has been sitting on his duff – what with his alt-Americana band (Lost Dogs), his quirky rock band (Swirling Eddies), various solo albums and composing music for TV and video games (Neverhood and Catscratch, to name a few) – he just hasn’t had the time. But when a Kickstarter campaign tripled the goal amount, his schedule magically cleared up.

The result of “getting the band back together” is Dig Here Said the Angel , a brilliant and joyous exploration of the theme of his own death. Oh, he’s a wily one, that Uncle Terry! “Forward in Reverse” opens with Mellotron flutes that are soon joined by military snare drums and shimmering guitars; from there, it morphs into a plucky parade of horns that become ensnared in a flanged swirl of orchestral strings. Keyboardist Rob Watson pulls out all the stops, adding realistic strings, timpani, harps, pianos, horns and all manner of tasty touches to make each song a wonder of surprises, no extra charge.BR>

The upbeat rocker “Jesus Wept” has one of my favorite lines on the album, “I found my masterpiece in a discount bin,” and also features an oddly disconcerting wobbly guitar sound – or is it an organic keyboard? Not bad for a song about how many of your friends have passed on. The title track is an epic with crusty low bass that bubbles up like a tar pit, reflecting upon its oily surface the light guitar figures that glitter like stars in the heavens. Bassist Tim Chandler cuts loose on this album, and his imaginative, unorthodox style, which can turn a simple folk song into a tension-filled bar brawl, revels in fuzz and a dominant place in the mix.BR>

Offsetting the lush orchestral rock of the first “side” is the stripped-down punk rocker “Now That I’ve Died,” with lyrics from the perfected afterlife like “I’m never cynical (but still a little sarcastic).” A personal favorite is the Jerry Chamberlain-penned power- pop gem “Waking Up Under Water,” a dark song full of gigantic guitar hooks that give way to timpani, strings and horns for a modern “Kashmir” feel before adding in a bizarre Middle Easter guitar sound, compliments of Greg Flesch, whose wildly inventive, yet melodic guitar figures will give me months of enjoyment unwinding and understanding. Of course, I have to mention drummer Ed McTaggart who manages to bring freshness and vigor to the aging art form known as rock n’ roll drumming, nowhere more so than on the Lennonesque closer “The Sun Shines on Everywhere” where Taylor unveils yet another lush anthem graced with a stunningly gorgeous and melodic guitar solo. One last extra touch to mention is the brief appearance of “Penny Lane” horns in the final seconds of the album, a sly wink and a final ray of hope against a normally dark theme that permeates the album.BR>

In a recent interview Taylor said that this band is basically “accessible 60s pop ... but eccentric.” But it’s so much more. It has humor, lyrical paradox and intelligence and is very human. Plus it’s just danged good. Dig Here Said the Angel is an album that has quick appeal but a depth both lyrically and musically that will certainly be calling me back well into 2014.

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