Maybe it’s symbolised on the front cover of this album, but the enormous depth of perceptive song writing vision portrays Danny Schmidt’s latest record as a lyrical jewel among a deluge of likeminded releases. One can only marvel at the immense substance of OWLS, which in tandem with the relaxing mood of its soothing tone heralds an ultra-literate record spearheaded with the power of words. The choice to bury your head into the lyrical whirlpool or let the satisfying melodic tide wash over you entirely lies with the listener and each is of desirable equal merit. However the former unveils some fantastic song structures which are even more profound to the eye than to the ear.
Danny is a longstanding visitor to the UK and follows a lengthy line of Austin troubadours to seek inspiration within the dusty Texan capital before spreading the wares far and wide. This dignified record is Danny’s seventh studio release and is set to be the focal point of his next UK trip in the autumn, this time in conjunction with his wife and fellow songwriter Carrie Elkin. Danny is a mesmerising live act with his almost spoken expressive singing style shaping the words into a vivid commentary on both the seen and the experienced. Quite often Danny seeks inspiration from his surroundings with natural forces driving a desire to fuel an insatiable appetite to communicate through the artistic medium of music and song.
A minimalist approach to studio involvement optimises the small band of players selected to bring the eleven tracks to recorded status and the result is a subtle blend of accompaniment serving as an oxygen source to Danny’s songs. Only towards the end of the record does the sound escalate to skirt a little around rock territory. However the true beauty of these compositions is Danny’s approach to cyclical, symmetrical and repetitive word patterns with sufficient eminence to drive the literati into raptures. For mere mortals it adds up to a collection of supremely crafted songs served in a wrap of smoothen delight. Listening to the 45 minute duration of OWLS without doubt spoils your ears and more importantly the matter in between.
Although possessing that entity-quality critical to the survival of the album, four tracks from the record can be hived off to showcase what Danny does best. The stunning ‘All the More to Wonder’ will make you gasp with its fabulous use of interlinked questions and ability to encapsulate some wonderful pontification. ‘Cries of Shadows’ is a fantastic piece of imagery using an amazing cyclical structure to relay the circle of life through the perspective of a shadow. ‘Cry on the Flowers’ is an amalgam of verse and chorus brilliance with the subject woven into the lyrics in an outstanding format. ‘Soon the Earth Shall Swallow’ completes this exemplary quartet with pure environmental awareness captured within a smart sectioned and compartmentalised form of song structure.
Elsewhere Danny launches the record with a touch of imagery in ‘Girl with Lantern Eyes’ and does not shy away from a slither of social commentary in ‘The Guns and the Crazy Ones’. Once again the lyrical patterns scale another peak in the question and answer structure to ‘Faith Will Always Rise’. ‘Bad Year for Cane’ is the nearest thing we get to an explicit tale, although the song itself provokes curiosity amidst the ravages of the natural world. The message is getting clearer that this record is increasingly best enjoyed in conjunction with accessing the lyrics which can be found on Danny’s website.
At times OWLS is capable of inducing an out of body experience and succeeds emphatically in freeing your mind of that mundane everyday clutter. Diving deep into the lyrical opulence is probably the ultimate recommendation for understanding the work of Danny Schmidt. Deep down the riches sparkle and await your act of discovery.