‘Stories About You' by Danny Ansell


‘Stories About You' by Danny Ansell

Review

One of my personal sadnesses (among several) for our local music scene was  that Danny Ansell's long awaited ‘As It Goes'  album came out precisely  when his great live band was unable to play the excellent songs on it: certainly among the finest Danny has written.

Nevertheless, despite what must be a large degree of frustration, Danny has not lost his creative enthusiasm and in fact has managed to record six songs during this period which he's sharing with us this month on an EP called ‘Stories About You' (and six songs is very generous for an EP).

Working in his new home studio on Wednesday & Friday evenings with bassplayer Patrick Beard, recording & producing it themselves (a first for Danny after five previous albums in professional studios) Danny has managed to capture one older song he had co-written with the late Steve Madden & five more recent ones:  "Fix It Up", "Ones That You Love", "Under The Moonlight", "Love on a Shelf", "Don't Change" and the title track.

As evidenced on that last magnificent album, Danny's writing is definitely moving onwards and  reaching new heights. Generally the format of recording has tended to make the songs quieter & simpler in arrangement & this serves them really well: their strengths are revealed much more readily & the tone definitely suits the themes & above all Danny's voice, which is exposed more than ever and allows the intensity of his words & delivery to ring through perfectly.

He pretty much picks up where the album left off with a collection of mature & reflective tracks, pulling off the trick of burrowing deeper into human psyches & emotions while retaining the immediacy which will attract people to them & yet (I would imagine), they'll still work well in a live setting, even with audiences brought up on high octane Danny Ansell performances.

That said, it is a bit difficult to keep from having a moist eye at times. Quite apart from the passion of the actual words, Danny has an excellent ear for melody & there is little more affecting than a sad lyric set to a beautiful, often minor key tune.

For various reasons, EPs seem to be a much more popular format for musicians than they were for many years: probably more so currently than albums. One effect is to ensure that what you get is a consistently high quality across the record & that certainly applies here (I repeat my comment about value for money). For a second successive day I find myself writing a review when I decline to pick out a favourite track (please don't insist): they are strike me as being of similar merit. Hopefully most if not all of them will get radio play.

One aspect which I think will get Danny fans excited is that although his guitar is prominent across the EP, we do hear his keyboard playing playing a more upfront role than normal & this certainly offers yet another revelation.

From the gentle yet really emotionally powerful "Don't Change" (despite its restrained sound this may well be the "cigarette lighter in the air" one from the EP), via the "state of our nation" social commentary of "Fix It Up", the Lennonesque "Love on a Shelf" , the  slightly menacing "Ones That You Love"  the  REM channelling "Under the Moonlight" to the archetypal Danny Ansell title track which grows inexorably in its three and a half minutes with multiple layers of imagery & meaning, there is considerable variety within ‘Stories About You'. Hopefully it will keep you going until you can catch the band live again….

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