In 2007, after a 25-year absence from music, Wisconsin-based singer-songwriter Dan Kwas released his first solo effort, "A Life Too Long Forgotten," a fond look back at his lost youth and a glance toward the uncertainties of middle age. Kwas thought the album would be a one-time occurrence – catharsis for the nostalgic longings of middle age – but he was wrong; the songs kept coming. So much so that Kwas realized he had another album in him and returned to his basement to begin recording his latest release, "Dreams Die Hard."
Kwas started playing guitar and writing songs at age 13. In his early 20s he made the rounds of folk clubs in Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison before doing a musical about-face and forming power pop band The Sidewalks in Milwaukee in 1979. In the summer of 1981, the band released the single "Natalie," which became a high-request tune on local college radio. Despite the band’s minor success, Kwas grew despondent over the failure to attract a larger audience and threw in the towel at the age of 25, leaving Milwaukee and music behind. For more than two decades music was the furthest thing from his mind as he focused on a career, love, marriage and family. But when he realized there was still something missing in his life, Kwas returned to writing songs.
On "Dreams Die Hard," Kwas takes a darker view than on "A Life Too Long Forgotten." While his previous album was filled with hope and determination, Kwas now resigns himself to the failures and weariness that accompany middle age, as is evidenced on the lead-off track "Don’t Dreams Die Hard," the ragged "Worn Down" and the blues-tinged "Nowhere To Go But Down." He questions his lack of faith on "Magic Touch" and "Jesus Saves (Save For Me)," relates a morality tale on the excess of greed on "A Little Piece Of Paradise," doles out some useful advice to a younger man on "Lost Cause" and expresses his anger over a failed relationship on the rocker "Never Saw It Coming." He also includes his take on "The Last Time" by the Rolling Stones. Kwas, who cites the Stones and Dylan as early influences and Steve Earle and Wilco as latter-day ones, wrote 10 of the album’s 11 songs and performs every part himself.