Dane Drewis: Rock and Soul – CD Review
Californian guitarist and vocalist Dane Drewis has released his 2010 debut album “Rock and Soul” featuring Dale Drewis on bass and vocals and Jason Weed on drums.
Dane Launches his album with a funky souly groove entitled “Friday Night”. Straight away we know we’re in for a real treat as Dane’s smooth and emotive vocals set the tone for the rest of the album. He is clearly an accomplished performer and vocalist and with this opening track he makes a real ‘feel good’ statement setting out his stall so we know what is to come. Track 2, “Together” carries on the funky groove with another catchy ditty with more than a nod towards Frusciante of Chili Peppers fame. He has one or two choppy funky licks in his arsenal giving a little of that seventies guitar flavour. The vocals are exquisite and predominantly backed with a lower octave giving the melodies some body without over complicating the mix. By the third track “Full Of It” we have an established style and are back into feel-good mode with a catchy up-tempo tune that builds up into the chorus. The song is structured expertly into verse bridge chorus format and Drewis adds a little tongue-in-cheek fun-poking by having the real (and ironic) song title encoded onto the actual CD! His musical diversity is amply demonstrated with the fourth track “Sweet Music” when he ventures into reggae territory, even though it’s all a little bit on the safe side, with this lilting ballad type song. A very bizarrely effected guitar solo sneaks in at the end, and this was very confusing. On the one hand, I’m glad that Dane is not afraid to experiment with sound, but for me, it really didn’t fit with the song at all and at first sounded like it was an accidental error. Drewis redeems himself with a latin-esque tune for track five. “Broken Strings” is a very minimalist and tastefully arranged track with a clear Santana influence although it seems that Drewis and co have deliberately steered clear of loading the track with signature sounding guitar riffs. No doubt a wise move as the Santana sound is such a distinctive trademarked sound – it doesn’t take much to make a connection and jump to conclusions about copycatting. The next track “Get Level” is very much inspired by the Chili Peppers “Blood Sugar” era with some seventies style percussion grooves and spacious clean guitar and bass unison work together with Dane’s smooth bluesy vocal bouncing along the groove. The clean chops are nice and tight and accentuate the funk groove brilliantly. I particularly liked the groove on “Speed Bumps” and Dane’s vocal and harmonies are the icing on the cake. Here is another feel good groove with a chilled out vibe. The solo is totally appropriate with some lovely octave touches nice and subtly worked into the mix.
The overall mix of this EP is quite pleasing on the ear and this is largely due to the space left in the arrangements, however I think it was a mistake to master the disk with so much compression. It’s easy to squeeze the life out of a mix in order to keep up with the “loudness wars” but the trade off is when someone likes the material and wants to hear the entire album it can cause fatigue. There are also some mix inconsistencies between some of the tracks (for example “Rollin” which sonically stands out as being too different) However I will add that because the songs themselves are crafted well, this issue is largely irrelevant. As a listener I remained entertained the entire time.
Overall this is a very impressive debut release by Dane Drewis and his band. This is my kind of outfit and should Drewis and co decide to tour The United Kingdom I would definitely be making a beeline to see them live. This is excellent material and I’m certain that if the guys keep on writing and recording and playing live then only good things can come from it all.
You can listen to more music from Rock and Soul over at Dane’s Web site.
This review was written by Neil Thomas for the Rock n Roll View.