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Michel, Danny
In The Belly of a Whale

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Label: Independent Released: 8/1/2001

From the opening bars of Newton's Apple, the first track on Danny Michel's new CD In The Belly of a Whale, he again shows his fondness for a Frank Black-inspired mid-tempo chord progression and wastes no time in commencing his delivery of typically wry, self-assured vocals amid pop-rock craftiness, devolving into a frenzy of guitar noodling before returning to another hummable chorus.

Michel returns from his stint with Starling to offer a mix of literate, polished tunes recorded mostly at home - polished enough to be radio-friendly but with an intimate, unaffected production. This is not to say the album is not sprinkled with Michel's trademark quirks, like buzzing keyboard (whale-tones?) in the title track, crickets chirping in the background and an Ennio Morricone-style break in "I Don't Wanna Hear It", "The Kids Are Alright" and "Let's Dance" thievery in "We're Gonna Be Alright", and so on. Michel's enjoyment of the recording process is evident as usual in his mix of guitar sounds, instrumentation and varied personnel including Andy Stochansky, Josh Hicks and his Starling ex-bandmates, among others.

While some songs are reminiscent of his solo shows, most songs are drum-and-bass thickened and Michel has expanded his orchestration to near-epic proportions including strings and horns layered on top of the guitars and keyboards on a few songs. Fans of his solo shows will find the staples like "Toledo" and "Elgin Avenue" here but the often raucous arrangements on CD are very different from stripped-down guitar and vocal delivery these fans may be accustomed to.

Overall, yet another worthy collection from one of Canada's few prolific singer/songwriter/guitarist/producers.

Steve Donnelly Email WWW


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