Outside Looking In is the debut, full-length release from Dave Logan. The album highlights Logan’s first foray into songwriting, despite nearly two decades spent honing his guitar chops, performing live and contributing to other musician’s studio efforts. But those many formative years have proven worthwhile, for this collection of songs presents with a strength and richness usually only found with more experienced songwriters.
Stylistically, the album casually winds its way through several musical genres while remaining firmly anchored to its acoustic guitar-driven foundation. Songs such as “Rise” and the title track, “Outside Looking In” reflect a strong Dave Matthews influence with their up-tempo rhythms, creative progressions and “sieze the day” lyrics while other tracks like “All Good Things” and the blues-infused “Play Me Around” display a sort of pop sensibility reminiscent of Continuum-era John Mayer. And like John Mayer, Logan shows us that his guitar skills aren’t limited to tastefully strumming a few chords. On several occasions, he can be heard firing away on the electric guitar with confidence, skill and a delightfully unique approach to melody (try “One of Those Things”). But he’s not afraid to show us his tender side either. “Sarajane” and “Snowbirds & Semis” tell two sides of the same love story, the former being the sweet song inspired by the best moments in a blossoming relationship and the latter confronting the pain of love lost. He even tackles the subject of death and spirituality in the tragically-beautiful “Sister Rose”, an emotionally heavy ballad that features some of Logan’s most powerful songwriting.
Lyrically, Logan presents himself as a young man resigned to living a life spent pursuing a dream at all costs. “I always tried to avoid seriously entertaining the idea of making music for a living. Mostly because I was afraid of failing but also because everyone seems to believe that the chance of ‘making it’ is slim to none. But it always kept coming back to music for me. Nothing else was satisfying me. That’s all I wanted to do. And then one day I decided that I wasn’t going to be owned by my fear anymore. I wasn’t going to let doubt make my decisions for me. I had to at least try. A lot of the lyrics on the album are basically conversations with myself. It’s me trying to convince myself to become the man I believe I can be.” He expresses these ideas in a multitude of musical moods throughout the album, from inspired motivation on the title track, to carefree rambling on the country-folk “We’ll All Be Dust” and the dark and dirty growling groove of “Find My Way”.
Each song highlights different facets of Logan’s musical talents. From his well-developed melodies and accomplished guitar playing to his strong voice and emotive, thoughtful lyrics, Dave Logan gives us a delightfully refreshing sound in an age of heavily contrived, lifeless pop and fleeting success. Outside Looking In is a highly commendable effort for this new songwriter and will likely appeal to a variety of listeners.