Wednesday, 2 January 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Dan Rauchwerk - We Are More Than What We Leave Behind : Self-released (Out in the UK on Jan 7th 2019)

A new year; a new name and another record getting a renewal in a new land.  Dan Rauchwerk’s WE ARE MORE THAN WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND breezed into life last year in his homeland and now takes a punt in the old world; a source for some of the material.  This New Yorker plants his foot firmly in folk troubadour territory and serves up a fertile source of stories spinning history into different perspectives. The style is raw and simple, akin to a refined Billy Bragg, but awash with a desire to listen intently. A singer-songwriter’s dream scenario.

This ten-track selection is the debut solo release from an artist cast as a founding member of the international touring band The Lords of Lichtenstein. No previous experience is required to take a lucky dip into this record’s contents and to derive some listening contentment. Reference to the title eventually comes in the final line of the final song, but at thirty-five minutes long you do not have to wait too long and the gist of the album is well grasped by then.

Historical context comes to the fore quite quickly with the feisty ‘Mrs, McLaughlin’ opening proceedings and leaving Rauchwerks’s war futility sentiments fervently in the open. A few tracks down the line, ‘Victoria’ takes the influential monarch as the centrepiece with several cutting lines concluding a legacy. In contrast to the famous, inspiration draws from browsing unknown epitaphs in ‘It Just is’ showing that our writer is more than content to roam down random paths to reach a shared conclusion.

As an aside, I am unaware whether Dan Rauchwerk has listened to the track ‘Dusty in Memphis’ by The Dreaming Spires, but if not, his own song ‘Memphis’ had some psychic influence thrust upon it in more ways than one.

The duet with Caitlin Mahoney was probably the album’s most disappointing moment, but a least it prompted checking out a new artist. While her solo material sounded fine, perhaps not all matches are made in heaven. On a more positive note, and taking the concept of legacy in an alternative direction, ‘Skywalker’ is a stellar piece of song writing shedding some limelight on the unsung.

A stark clarity emanates from this album and I am sure if Dan Rauchwerk and his instruments stood in front of you the live musical experience would be entertaining, engaging and enlightening. There is likely to be a backstory attached to each song, but in the absence of not seeing him live, then a vivid imagination can fill the void. A singer- songwriter would likely concur with such interpretation.

WE ARE MORE THAN WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND reveals a lot more about Dan Rauchwerk – the singer-songwriter, than we knew before. The conclusion being a record fighting for its patch and securing a stake. Maybe even a legacy, although definitely a title on the tin that explains the contents.

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