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(self released)
Release Date: 30th March 2015

Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland

dan reed

American rocker Dan Reed has had a long and interesting path through life. Bursting out of his native Portland, Oregon in the late eighties with the supercharged funk rock of the Dan Reed Network he sold millions of albums and toured with the Rolling Stones before deciding the route to stardom wasn't paved with happiness and taking a break from music.

That break ended up lasting more than a decade before he returned to the fold as a solo artist. Now after several tours both solo acoustic and with a band plus a reunion with his Network bandmates on the go the charismatic frontman is fully committed to his art once more. After a successful fundraising campaign he has released this, his third solo album since his re-emergence.

I have seen Dan live a few times both back in the day and in his more recent travels and he is always a joy, a warm caring man who has a likeable charismatic quality which makes him equally popular with both the guys and the ladies who appreciate his easy going charm. Even just with an acoustic guitar he can hold an audience's attention with his stories and songs of love or with a social conscience. My problem up to now has been that the DRN songs stand head and shoulders above his more recent efforts which have been worthy but not stellar. It's hard for any artist to get past a great back catalogue.

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I approached 'Transmission' with trepidation then but I have to say that this is easily the best album he has come out with since the third DRN album 'The Heat' all those years ago. This time round he has gone for a grown up, lush atmosphere. The sound is warm and full but the tone reflects his age and wisdom and is more late era Fleetwood Mac in vibe than out and out rock. There is no funk here this time either.

Mr Reed's voice carries all that charisma you have come to expect. He is one of those people who make you listen to the lyrics as they sing and you can hear that everything he comes out with is heartfelt and honest. There is lovely use of harmonies all over the place and the recordings have a sumptuous feel and yet an organic live sound at the same time.

Recorded as a trio with long term collaborators Bengan Jonasson on bass and Robert Ikiz on drums all the instrumentation has the feel of being carefully thought out and totally in sync with the songs at all times.

There are some really strong songs here too. Opening track 'Broken Soul' sets the scene nicely with a nice gentle groove which turns out to be one of the rockier tunes on the album! It immediately grabs your attention though and the same can be said for 'Bending The Light' which has some really arresting vocal harmonies which just make the song flow beautifully along.

'Fire In The Pyramid' is another good one with an insistent, toe tapping vibe and 'She's Not You' is an achingly effective tale of lost love.

The constant laid back vibe works well for the album as a whole but sometimes the individual songs get a little lost and are hard to recall after listening to the album all the way through. While there is much here to enjoy after a few listens there is still nothing quite up to the level of his very best stuff and while 'What Dreams May Come' is certainly a heartfelt tribute to the late Robin Williams the lyrics sound just a little too forced for me.

Overall this is a step up for me over previous solo releases 'Coming Up For Air' and 'Signal Fire' and a pretty good statement of intent as to what kind of solo artist we can expect Dan to be going forward. The laid back vibe may disappoint anyone looking for him to rock it up like he has in the past but with plans for a new Dan Reed Network album in the pipeline hopefully we will see that side of his personality then.

In the meantime this is a warm and cosy wrapping of lovingly put together smooth adult rock for those times when loud won't do. I look forward to hearing some of them live in his forthcoming UK acoustic tour with Danny Vaughn.

Click here for 'MUSIC... THE TRUE INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE' by Dan Reed...




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