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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.

 

                                                           Maurice Hope       

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1
Rod Picott
70 pts.
Out Past The Wires
Welding Rod Music
GC,AN,LM,SZ,TK
2
JW Roy & The Royal Family
62 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,PJ,DH
3
Steph Cameron
61 pts.
Daybreak over Jackson Street
Pheromona
ML
4
JD McPherson
54 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
AR,RK,LK
5
Sarah Morris
53 pts.
Hearts In Need Of Repair
Independent
 
6
Turnpike Troubadours
52 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
MA,GF
7
Chris Hillman
51 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
 
8
Hayward Williams
39 pts.
Pretenders
Why River Records
KG,JB,JBO
9
Joe Henry
38 pts.
Thrum
Ear Music
 
10
Jim White
37 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
JJ
12
Margo Price
35 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
 
11
Mark Martyre
35 pts.
Rivers
Independent
MF
13
Mavis Staples
32 pts.
If All I Was Was Black
Anti
HO
 
Peter Oren
32 pts.
Anthropocene
Western Vinyl
RB,HB
15
Fred Wickham
29 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
 
16
Jeffrey Martin
27 pts.
One Go Around
Fluff & Gravy Records
HDB
17
Blitzen Trapper
25 pts.
Wild and Reckless
Lojinx
JDO
 
Jeff Crosby
25 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records
FCE,FC,JS
19
Dori Freeman
24 pts.
Letters Never Read
Blue Hens Music
 
 
Hardpan
24 pts.
Hardpan
Blue Rose Records
WR
21
The Deep Dark Woods
21 pts.
Yarrow
Six Shooter
JF
22
Lilly Hiatt
20 pts.
Trinity Lane
New West
TJ
 
Tom Russell
20 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
JAB
24
Eilen Jewell
19 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
MW
25
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
FS

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