Shed My Skin
Red Hen Music
Mature, Stylish, Graceful and Classy Songs of the Heart.
It appears that singer-songwriter Dan Navarro was a big deal in the USA Music Biz in the 1980’s and 90’s as one half of a duo called Lowen & Navarro (14 albums in 20 years must count for something!) plus he had a hand in writing quite a few hit songs too…… yet I’ve never heard of him, until now…… his debut solo album in 2019.
In fairness, now I’ve played SHED MY SKIN a couple of times I’m more than happy to make this a starting point; as he not only writes an interesting song; he has a husky and ‘world weary’ voice that hooked me in right from the first verse of opening track, Shed My Skin. Much like the album itself; this song sits comfortably alongside many of the artists that came out of Laurel Canyon in the 60’s and 70’s; but also the tightly wrapped music that came from Townes Van Zandt and his merry band in the early 70’s.
While many of those songwriters were ‘old beyond their years’ Dan Navarro writes his songs after a ‘life well lived’ and with the wisdom that can only be found, ‘looking back;’ which is what makes Straight To The Heart of Me and Ghosts very special indeed; as each demand your time and effort to get the best from them.
For a Singer-Songwriter album that sounds quite simple and easy on the ear; Navarro gets to thank a multitude of people for their help in the making of the record; but thanks to Steve Postell’s mixing and producing nothing ever gets to take you away from Navorro’s heartfelt approach to his bittersweet love songs Bulletproof Heart, Hard For Me Now and especially the cinematic and claustrophobic Let Her Ride too.
For an Americana album like this, Navarro includes two fascinating choices of cover songs; Billy Idol’s Sweet Sixteen which now becomes a mean ‘n moody Acoustic Rocker, which I didn’t recognise at all, partly because it now includes some amazing fiddle from Aubrey Richmond, Dobro from Doug Cox and some sensual and breathy harmonies from Grace Pettis (what’s not to like?) and the other gets to close the album; a fairly maudlin rendition of Wichita Linesman which just about perfectly closes the proceedings.
Although I’ve been smitten by both those songs, two others have totally captured my heart; the lucid Arrows which conjures up it’s own windswept imagery in a way I’d normally associate with someone like Jackson Browne; and the other is the song that actually is my Favourite Song Here; You Drove Me Crazy, an intensely powerful duet with Janiva Magness that really proves Navarro’s songwriting is up there with the very best; and the way that the accordion, guitars and mandolin interweave behind their voices is quite unnerving at times yet incredibly beautiful at the same time.
As I alluded to earlier; Dan Navarro’s songs are all pulled from a world of experiences that only a ‘man of a certain age’ can attain and articulate; and Dan Navarro does it with style, grace and class.
Released May 17th 2019