When this album landed on my virtual desk (well…in my inbox) I was a little bit apprehensive if I was going to enjoy this album at all. I like my rock music and weirder instrumental kinda music, sure I do like a little bit of alt-country and am generally off the opinion “If it’s good then I will give it a shot” but with Danny, I had been told of comparisons to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, once I heard that my heart sank a little as these were 2 artists that I can’t stand, they do absolutely nothing for me. So I braced myself, poured myself a large cup of coffee and pressed play on what I thought would be a torturous 45 mins.
45 minutes on and with a second cup of coffee brewing, I was getting ready to press play again for another spin of the album and I can honestly say that Owls by Texas native Danny Schmidt is a fantastic album from start to finish!!! Schmidt is not only a great vocalist and accomplished musician but more than anything he is a fantastic storyteller that takes you on a journey throughout this beautifully arranged slice of Americana.
One of the plus factors that makes Owls such an enjoyable listening experience is not only the wonderful musicianship of the band that has been assembled for the recording of the album but also the fantastic production of the album.
Another thing I loved about getting Danny’s album was just how professional the entire package was. Not only did I receive the album with press shots and a bio (Any band worth their weight in gold should know how to put together a decent press pack and trust me, I have seen some terrible press packs) but when I checked out Danny’s website I noticed he even has a page dedicated to telling the listener as to what each song was actually about. It’s little things like that that made reviewing this album such a pleasure.
And so on to the album… I won’t write about each song in detail as I could probably write a book about this album as you keep picking up little things on each listen so I’m going to pick some of the tracks at random and talk about them briefly.
The album opens with the track “Girl with Lantern eyes”. It’s romantic, slow and atmospheric with an almost middle eastern style vibe to it, complete with Spanish guitar and haunting male/female vocals trade off with the wonderfully talented Carrie Elkin.
The Gun and The Crazy Ones sees Danny going full band, complete with Hammond organ. It sounds like if The Band invited Ray LaMontagne in for a jam. It’s heart warming, it’s catchy, it’s soulful, it’s almost gospel like.
Bad Year For Cane is a slow burning song that talks of a farmers depression due to his crops failing and going through a divorce. The song has wonderful imagery painted by Schmidt’s wonderfully expressive lyrics. For me, it’s probably the most haunting track on the album.
Tracks like Looks like God, Cries Of Shadows and Cry on the Flowers will really make you stand up and take notice of just how much of an accomplished Lyricist and an undiscovered talent that Danny really is. The man really can paint pictures with just a few words.
For me, my only criticism of this great album is that it should have ended on track 10, Paper Cranes, as the final track, Wings of No Restraint, didn’t do anything for me but none the less… this doesn’t take away any of the enjoyment from a great album.
This is the part of the review where I’m meant to give you my 2 or 3 standout tracks on the album but I honestly can’t give you a list of the standout tracks because on every listen my favorites change so just treat yourself and pick up a copy of the album and pick your own favorite and let me know!
May 19th sees Owls hitting all the usual outlets online. For more info on how to pick up your copy, keep your eyes peeled on www.dannyschmidt.com and for his upcoming Europe tour starting August 27th (which hopefully sees Danny coming to Ireland)