Danny James

Burger Records, 2015

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Although he made his name in the garage punk scene, Danny James’ debut album eschews that background in favor of ‘70s-inspired AOR pop and R&B. He manages at times to make the sound current and creates an interesting contrast in the process.

The songs are layered with heavy echo, keyboards, guitar solos and other trickery; opener “Tightlipped” sounds like the great lost Electric Light Orchestra single from 1975, with some great bass playing to boot that brings to mind either Chris Squire or Parliament/Funkadelic, depending on your childhood. “Smelling Ghost” and “Lydia” are in the same mold, songs where the sound and feel is more important than the melody, which often gets buried under the waves of sound.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Without Reluctance” is a shimmering homage to R&B funk with an odd spoken word midsection capped off with a skronky, overly loud solo. The beat of the song sounds a bit like Outkast’s “Prototype” from the excellent Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, which itself was an homage to the same era. “Dear Heart” is a beast of a pop song, riding a great funky beat and overlaying it with some Who-like vocal harmonies, background bongo drums and a long closing guitar solo. In another era, it would have been huge; in 2015, it’s charmingly retro and kinda cool.

“Lucke” is the only time this disc digs into James’ past, a cheerful garage rock single with a harmonica solo and energy to burn. Only the brief syrupy ELO choruses drag it down a notch. “That’s Not The Plan” is many genres at once, and though it falls just short of the mark, the energy and ambition on display cannot be denied. If the plan is to do it his way, genres and expectations be damned, then James is right on target.

Pear doesn’t break new ground and little of it feels essential, but it’s a fun listen that makes the concept of “retro” seem cool and not ironic or outdated. For those who grew up with or have an affinity for ‘70s prog-pop and R&B, this might be worth a look.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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