22 July 2017

Danny and the Champions of the World - Brilliant Light

Danny and the Champions of the World are an Americana/Folk Rock/Soul hybrid band from London, UK who have been going since 2007.  This is their seventh album in total and it is also a brave move, something which could be a clincher to whether you listen to the album at all.  It is a double album, one which has 18 songs, that is a gutsy decision right there.  I applaud the band for having the bravery to release an album of this length, but I will get to my feels at the end of the review.  They have been making waves with this album, it has been getting good press, but how will I feel about it?  Well, there is only one way to find out.

01 – Waiting for the Right Time

A song about wanting to move on from ones’ problems starts this album, it has an Americana flavour from the beginning, a hint of Social Distortion attitude without the punk leanings and the party is slowly warming up as this tale of freedom unfolds.  It has a sound that reminds me a bit of Bruce Springsteen and The Decemberists, it feels like it is drenched in experience that is hard to teach.  It is a song that is also typical of the Americana genre, it is very formal and steeped in tradition.  This is not a bad thing, it sets out the store for the band early on.

02 – Bring Me to My Knees

‘Bring Me to My Knees’ is a song about being in a constricting, toxic relationship opens this album, with all those doubts and pains wrapping around the person who has experienced a major revelation.  It is a solid number, it has doubt at its heart and the pace is steady.  It is not exploding out of the block, but it is doing all the right things for this genre.  So, steady as she goes on this one.

03 – It Hit Me

Once again, we are in the throes of love/conflict and it has come out of nowhere.  There is a Caribbean feeling to this number, maybe it is the organ mixing with the horns, the way the slide guitar sounds and it sounds pleasant enough.  I am not the biggest fan of this style of song, but I cannot fault the playing.  Not for me, but I am sure it will excite someone else.

04 – You’ll Remember Me

A song about what happens once you have parted company or this mortal realm, which is played against a slow style that is for slow dancing and lovers embracing.  It reminds me a bit of Chris Rea and Van Morrison in places, it is almost that sort of song that has a blues vein running through it.  It is another song that does not excitement so much, but I can see it doing well for their audience.  Remember, sometimes there is a difference between a song you are not a fan of and one that is all out shite – this falls in the former category and I cannot fault it.

05 – Swift Street

A song about memories of the past coming back to the centre of your mind, all those sounds and smells that make memories come to life are on show here.  It is a strong song, one that comes across with enough emotion to level anyone who possesses a heart that is not cold.  It is a beautiful number, one that will be able to bring a tear to the eye of the hardest person with ease and this slow Americana number is a little stunner on this album.

06 – Consider Me

‘Consider Me’ adds a little bit of energy to the album, whilst the song is asking for consideration of a union to a possible lover.  It has passion and a feverish desire engrained into its core, making it a little bit needy in places for my tastes, it is also a little long as well.  However, once again I cannot fault the playing and I can see it going down well with their audience.

07 – Coley Point

Coley Point is a song about settlement, mixed in with a union that is forged in this small town.  I am not sure where Coley Point is, the only one I have found is in Newfoundland, Canada.  The music that accompanies the words is a good as anything on this album, but this one has subtle hooks and a Mark Knopfler style of song writing that makes it hard to ignore for me.

08 – It’s Just a Game (That We Were Playing)

There is a playing sound to this song, it has a sunshine to the music.  This is not reflective in the lyrics which are full of spite and disenchantment at a relationship which has turned sour.  The band sound as if they are having fun, but I am not joining here.  Well played, but it is not for me.

09 – Never in The Moment

The penultimate song of the first half of the album is a rockier number from the band, it is also another one which is reeking of passion and a sense of self preservation from being hurt any further by a distant lover.  It is a decent number once again, but I am still disengaged from the music to be honest.  I am feeling bad for the band at this point as it sounds like I am dissing them, but this is not what I am intending to do.  It is just not my cup of tea, but it is still well played.

10 – Gotta Get Things Right in My Life

The first half of the album ends with a song about getting ones’ house in order, making sure that everything about you is fit for purpose and will enable you to more forward, both emotional, spiritually and physically.  It is another relaxed affair, with eyes towards the goal at hand and a steely determination to do more than endure.  The style is in keeping with the album, professionally done and sounding as if a lot of effort and time has gone into the song.

11 – Waiting for the Wheels to Come Off

Starting the second half of the album, we find Danny and the Champions of the World trying to hold everything together as the fear of failure comes to the forefront of the album.  I am not gonna lie, it is the first time that they have sounded a bit messy, everybody is trying to get there bit upfront and it does not gel well. 

12 – Don’t Walk Away

We are in ballad territory on “Don’t Walk Away”, well I say ballad it is more like an argument that has gone from shouting into simmering, brooding silence.  It is about getting everything off your chest and having your say.  It is beautifully crafted and it holds a certain charm.  It also does not feel cluttered and it is a blessed relief after “Waiting for the Wheels to Come Off”.

13 – Don’t You Lose Your Nerve

With a sound that comes incredibly close to ‘Tracks of my Tears’ by Smokey Robinson in places, ‘Don’t You Lose Your Nerve’, D&tCofW have created a song about holding on and never giving up.  It is well played once more, but I am still distant to the sound in a lot of ways and it leaves me a little cold.  Also, it could have lost a few minutes and it would have still had the same impact, it is almost seven minutes long and the ending just loops on and on.

14 – Everything We Need

A stripped back song (in comparison to over tracks on this record), a song about being satisfied with one’s lot, that some people talk the talk, but they do not walk the walk.  It is a simple, basic song that sounds like it was lot of fun to create.  I really like this song, it is not over complicated and it keeps it simple.  Sometimes less can truly be more and in this case, that rings so true.  It is one of the best songs on the album, a beautifully crafted number that shows the best features of this band.

15 – Let the Water Wash Over You (Don’t You Know)

Music should be able to distract you, take you to distance places and let you mind wonder.  ‘Let the Water Wash Over You (Don’t You Know)’ does that for me on this album, it has passion and soul with a brave bravado that elevates this song above the rest of the album.  A band that sounds this competent is more than capable of releasing a great song and this is proof.  There is one issue I have with it – the ending.  It should have faded out; the ending is just messy and it sounds like they did not want the good times to end.  Now, I am a fan of messing finales, I am a Frank Zappa fan and most of them are just evil.  But for this style of music, it does not do the song justice.

16 – Long Distance Tears

An Americana song with a slice of Stevie Wonder influenced funk, well it is not the most obvious of combinations to be honest.  It is a song about distance killing off a relationship, the miles becoming too much for the love to survive.  It is a decent number, well played as always on this album, but it is a song that feels a little strange to these ears. It all comes down to the style clash and it almost works, but it is still a little weird.  I am not disliking it, but it does not make sense to me either.

17 – The Circus Made the Town

We have reached the penultimate song and it is a soul searching ballad, one that looks at life without a partner and how everything is still functioning after they have moved on.  It is playing to the strengths of D&tCofW, it is beautifully composed and sound really good.  As it is simple and to the point, I will move on to the next song.

18 – Flying by the Seat of Our Pants

Ending on a slow number?  Well, that is what is happening here and it is as you would expect, it is well played, but it is not doing anything that has not been done before.  It ends the album on a bit of a downer to be honest, but after such a long time it sort of feels like a relief to have reached the end.  A good song, but not sure why it is ending the record.

Now, there are a few points about this album I want to get out there first.  A double Americana album is an incredibly brave move and one that I found a bit hard going in places, it was easier to step back from the album and listen to it in chunks than in one long run.  I think it might have worked better as than two records released a few months apart, but being advertised as part of the same set.  It is something that has worked for other acts in the past, but maybe it was not the right thing for these guys.  But let’s put my misgivings about the length of the record is to be put aside for a second to reflect upon that sound of the record, to get down to the rub as you will.  Danny & the Champions of the World are a professional, incredibly gifted act and they create a warm and welcoming sound on this album, it is an album that deals with the many ways that a person loves, requirements of self-imposed isolation and everything else.  They are incredibly good at what they do, the production is second to none and they have a sound that will make someone’s day whenever they are played.  However, it is not an album that I would listen to normal, I prefer to be honest with my readers (as well as artists) but I am not going to say it was poor either.  They sound good for the type of music that they release and I am sure that their audience will love it, but it is not for me.  Whilst the length issue might be a small issue in my head, the final result of this album is not.  ‘Brilliant Lights’ is a good Folk/American album that will make a good companion for the lonely trails that people call life, that is all you want from an album sometimes and I know it will be a hit with their audience.

7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out

Top track – Let the Water Wash Over You (Don’t You Know)

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