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Singer-songwriter Dan Raza is one of those musicians who’s music might take a little while to bed down, but once it does it is set to stay with the listener for a long time. Born in India and raised in London Raza is of mixed origin and though his music is very much steeped in folk that is not to say he might not someday check out the former.
Raza is joined by a fine set of players. One that stretches from B.J Cole (pedal steel guitar) to Geraint Watkins (organ, piano) by way of Barbara Bartz (violin), Jamie Shaw (drums), Alan Gibson (bass, horns, piano, strings) and Lawrie Wright (piano, guitar, backing vocals) to Maria Rivington (harmony vocals) and others. As the album title suggests, Dan Raza Two isn’t his first venture, for it follows his debut full-length self-titled studio album, Dan Raza plus Live at the Green Note. To date Raza has played support to a host of artists around the country, impressing with his relaxed, meticulous style. Neil Young a few years ago placed his song “Every Little Dog” on his Living The War website set up in the wake of the Iraq War.
If he was in need a lift at the time, Young certainly gave him a huge one. On the opening track “Silent’s The Night Wind” the tone of the music reminded me of Richard Thompson, such the beauty evoked by his vocals and playing. Solid throughout, Raza every now and again comes through with something extra special as in the graceful, whistle (Frank Reed) organ and fiddle escorted “Where The Rivers Divide”. On taking on a restless feel, “Shadowlands” provides the album with another wonderful tale. Only this time, his ramblings are more urgent. As is “Pay Day”, and the contrasting pedal steel guitar laden “Midnight And The Wine” and simple ode “Old Ways”. With people like Raza around the future of the contemporary balladeer is in good hands.
On keeping a fine balance between the thoughtful meandering ballads, and those a little more urgent he keeps the listener engaged. “Drifting” comes right on cue. Since if I was going to be critical he may overplay the slow ballads on occasions. Not that I am looking to hear an album decorated with fiddle driven tunes; but this fiddle, banjo, whistle and accordion driven tune housing a bit of a Celtic hue possesses a near spontaneous feel as the mood is lifted most perfectly. Staying on the subject of a Celtic flavour he closes the album with the peaceful “Galway Lights; albeit not particularly reminiscent of the west of Ireland haunt.
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