Review :: Danny Pound, "Surer Days"

Danny Pound's "Surer Days" is an authentic exercise in timeless songcraft - the kind of "bar band" record that you'd actually want to hear when you walk into a bar.

It's allegiance to its own character is precisely what will prevent the fickle industry machine from latching onto it. There's scarcely anything "indie" or "modern" about this record. Its closest touchstones are in the distant past: '70s country-folk songwriters, "The American Anthology of Folk Music" and the token Dylan/Young/Newman trifecta.

A warm acoustic vibe graces the recording, seamlessly translating the chemistry that Pound's veteran band - David Swenson on keys, Jeremy Sidener on bass and Dan Benson on drums - has developed during so many local shows.

Chiming 12-string guitars kick off "When Your Hand Reached For Mine," the album's first song and one of its best. "Diana's Doves" showcases the lazy-day vibe that Pound does so well, with poetic couplets charting the story of the "red man and white woman under the moon turned pale."

Pound's voice never overreaches its range, encompassing a book's worth of emotions in the span of 35 minutes. The harmonies sound as fresh as the vintage keyboard sounds, and the blues riffs never lapse into cliche.

Pound's solo take on "James Alley Blues" uses an alternate guitar tuning to flesh out the song's wistful and melancholy melody. The boldly performed piece demonstrates the power of Pound's understated style, which at times can silence a room just like fellow Lawrence songwriter Arthur Dodge.

"Put It Down" is the hardest rocking song in a batch of tunes that largely favors Pound's softer side. "The Planted Kiss" shows off the nimble fingers of piano-man Swenson, while album closers "Wishful Thinking" and "Angry Love" dip into the psychedelia of latter-day Beatles recordings.

Until now, the biggest knock on Danny Pound was that he hadn't put out an album since splitting with indie rockers Vitreous Humor (and later The Regrets). Looks like there's nothing left to pick on.

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