Material: When you ask Nashville-based artist Daniel Daniel why he uses his first name twice, he will tell you that it’s a signature; a way to stand out. Another way this artist stands out is with his brand of Americana, rootsy songs, his edgy but elegant look, and a commanding presence that keeps your focus on him. “Lonesome Hollow,” the title track from his current album, conjures up a visual backdrop of the Old West with its wistful, melancholy mood. The pedal steel reflects the cries of a soul in search of meaning, and along with Daniel’s prolific whistling at various instrumental breaks, one is reminded of the soundtrack from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.
In “Where Is The Key,” a lament in waltz tempo, Daniel asks: “Oh tell where is the key/ to lock all the pain making you bleed/lying in a stranger’s home/...we both need, we both need...love.” The song’s atypical structure takes you through two verses, followed by a double chorus, then an instrumental break, before ending the song with the first line of the first verse.
Musicianship: What’s particularly striking about this artist is his vocal mastery, how he is able to use his voice to control the nuances and dynamics in every song. This is key to what makes him effective in a live setting, along with adroit guitar work. Adding only one instrument, the pedal steel (which Eichalay plays pristinely) sets the right ambiance for Daniel Daniel’s repertoire and the set as a whole.
Performance: At times Daniel Daniel seems more spectator than the central figure in his own drama. A narrator who is less the object of the emotions encircling him, than one who delivers the message. Whether by design or happenstance, this style works for him, the emotions driven by the way he uses his voice to tell the story. In a venue where the acts change every 45 minutes, there’s the chance to grab some of the remaining audience from the previous show. Given the first slot of the night did not afford Daniel Daniel that opportunity; but to his credit, he was able to draw people to him as they piled in for the next act.
Summary: Painting visuals with his music, Daniel Daniel is compelling in his delivery, presenting diverse subject matter, the songs not always constructed with the usual formats, but they nevertheless come through effectively in performance.