"Puddles" by Danny AnsellReview
One of the several reasons I (admire, respect & appreciate the art of Danny Ansell is that I don't know what to expect from his releases before I hear them. There is little more tedious for me than someone offering me another dose of the "much as we expected".
Equally, there must be two main ways to become a popular musician. One, the line of least resistance & the one advocated by mainstream media & management is to adhere to what are perceived as mainstream expectations. The other, braver & I'd hope longer term route is to stick to your principles & write what you feel you need to say at any given time, hoping that people will give you a fair hearing & shift their expectations in your direction rather than the other way around.
Hence, in his follow-up to the very well received "Jericho", Danny has come up with "Puddles", which he'll be sharing with you tomorrow.
It's the first of four new tracks he & his band (Patrick Beard on bass guitar & Steven Shelley on drums) have recorded that'll you'll be hearing: all self recorded at DAM Studios & mixed and mastered by Eddie Thomas of Hednesford's Marquis Drive, a band Danny has been working with for the last year or more. Look out too for the exquisitely tasteful & poignant video shot in the midst of Coventry by Dan Connolly: one of the best I've seen recently.
Essentially, the further Danny gets into his career, the more the reflective & philosophical kicks in & shapes his work. Obviously he's had a lot of life experiences both for better & alas for worse over the last year or so, and these have definitely shaped what he wants to say to you. Like pretty much the entirety of his ‘As It Goes' album, "Puddles" is a musing on what he's learned & as such represents something more profound & mature than your average release.
As you've probably guessed, I found the single almost unbearably moving at times & it certainly hit me square in the heart (but then that's one of Danny's abiding strengths isn't it?). It's wrong of me to assume that what works for me will work for anyone else, but I'm pretty confident it will have a broad effect: as I've said before, Danny is also very good as taking deeply personal feelings and applying them so they have potentially universal impact. You don't need to have lived his life to appreciate what he's trying to say.
There are (and again this is true of his whole body of work) two other factors to consider though. Firstly, while the predominance of melancholy pervades certain sections, they are balanced with passages of uplift & ultimately optimism ( I really appreciate how Dan's film sets the former in places such as the cathedral ruins & subways while the latter is up on the car park roof, giving very nuanced visual amplifications of the lyrics). Secondly, where does Danny get all the melodies from? Every song he writes has a good one & I don't recognise them from any other source I'm aware of.
Danny really is now firmly in the business of moving hearts & I think that's the most important thing in his creative life. He deserves huge respect for this & I think people will appreciate how he's trying to articulate the more real emotions of life: dealing with loss & the bad things experienced while also trying to plot a purposeful route along the road ahead without being bound by what has already taken place (it's a bit spooky how much of this also applies to Dean MacDonald's upcoming "Torn" single: "great minds think alike" eh?).
I don't think there is anything wrong with a bit of moistness in the eye after hearing "Puddles": it's a totally reasonable response. Danny Ansell at the peak of his considerable powers.
You can catch Danny & the band (hopefully playing "Puddles") live next month at:
The White Lion in Brinklow on April 1st
The Oak House in Leamington on April 8th
The Arches on April 29th
Plus various places a little further afield: details on his webpage