SUMMER STORM | a collection of ukulele ditties
Written and recorded in Hawaii and New Zealand, Summer Storm - Daniel's sixth solo outing - references laidback island life with the ukulele's nylon strings, while wrapping it up in the kind of dynamic folk/indie-rock/ electronic feel that's been gradually evolving throughout the singer/songwriter's catalogue, particularly on the past two albums - 2001's Bound and Suburban and darling one year, released end of last year.
"...A symbol of innocent merriment," as described in Paradise of the Pacific (1917), the ukulele epitomises Hawaiian lifestyle and the 'aloha' spirit. Popularised by the Waikiki Beachboys in the early part of last century, the ukulele had something of a heyday in the 1920s and '30s, when Hawaii was still a far off tropical island filled with mystery and romance. Though now firmly into the 21st century, this romance and mystery is captured beautifully on Summer Storm.
Recording for the first time without guitar, Daniel's lilt on the ukulele and his trademark evocative lyrical content creates a distinct and fully-formed sound which is a journey in itself. Mixing Hawaiian references throughout - particularly in the environmental song No Mall At Sharks Cove, earlier released as an overnight recording in support of Friends of Sharks Cove (a Hawaiian Nonprofit Organization) - with social observation and personal insight (tipping his hat to political writer/ filmmaker Michael Moore in the cynically stated A Just Senator), Daniel combines his eclectic influences to deliver an album of light, frangipani-laced airiness and incisive, resonating cultural insight.
Set against this background, Daniel has welcomed back his darling one year contributors, Michael Brennan (Phonoss/the Stung/kidameln/the Feds/7 dials) on bass and Stan Leboy (theNOWawol/kidameln) on drums/ keyboards & loops. Together, the trio has created a warm, optimistic and cohesive album. Further, with the release based around the uniquely evocative ukulele, Summer Storm is an album unlike anything you'd expect.
Summer Storm is a welcome new chapter in this talented singer-songwriter's ongoing story.
Many times, an album has been sparked by an artist's discovery/rediscovery of a new or unusual instrument, and sometimes it's worked (Todd Rundgren's A Capella experiment of the human voice as every instrument) and just as many times it hasn't. This is one of those times where it really works. New Zealand-based indie rocker Daniel Gannaway constructed this somewhere-between-EP-and-LP-length collection on a simple premise: every song would feature the ukelele in some fashion. (Yes, you read right, the ukelele.) Recorded in NZ and Hawaii, Summer Storm takes that premise, and the instrument itself, through several permutations, and it all manages to work, largely thanks to Gannaway's reliable gifts in the songwriting department. Oddly enough, and this isn't a crack about originality or the lack thereof, the ukelele's role here reminded me of the shock value of the mandolin as a lead instrument in R.E.M.'s Losing My Religion. It's front and center on every song, though the tone of the songs shifts from light and breezy (Across The Sea, which reminded me curiously of early, pre-electric Split Enz) to more straight-ahead rock (Talking Story, which was the song that made me think of the Losing My Religion comparison in the first place), with stops at several stylistic destinations in between. Someone's clearly having fun putting the ukelele through its paces, though again, the songs are the key - they're all good enough on their own, unusual arrangements or not, to stand up. But any preconceptions you have about the ukelele in terms of strumming away at old tropical island tunes may not stand up after you hear this one - in a few places, it's some real rock 'n' roll. If you're in the mood for something different, this is some good stuff.
Reviewed by Earl Green
Singer/songwriter Daniel Gannaway shows the ukelele in an inspiring new light with his sixth solo outing. Written and recorded here and in Hawaii the eight tracks are a rewarding journey for a Sunday afternoon with their folk/indie-rock style, supported with delicate use of electronic synths and loops. The innocence and simplicity of the primary instrument, the ukelele, provides the distinct back-drop for the Hawaiian laid-back lifestyle and certainly creates that picture perfect aesthetic over the album. But within the evocative and convincing vocal delivery Gannaway will allow you to feel the Hawaiian sunshine or push you into darker personal, cultural and social insights with thought provoking vocal harmonies and melodies. The great aspect of the album is that each song's arrangement maintains a minimalistic nature, which shows a discipline and a depth of understanding on Gannaway's part. Underneath the ukelele, the cruising drums and harmonic supporting bass grooves provide an all around easy and easily recommendable listen.
Reviewed by Kent Walsdorf
NZ Musician Magazine
Daniel Gannaway makes pretty and beguiling music comprised of ukulele playing and other more ambient elements. It is also subtly political at the same time. If you listen to tracks like “No Mall At Sharks Cove,” for instance, which rails against the proliferation of McDonald’s restaurants, mini-malls and the like, it’s obvious that Gannaway is angered over the way places of scenic beauty are often spoiled by a quest for the almighty dollar.
It’s impossible to neatly categorize Gannaway’s music. The title track, for instance, begins with a kind of Chinese music feel to it, whereas “A Just Senator” is slightly jazzy. Most all of these tracks include the severely underused ukulele, as well. Gannaway sings with a clear vocal tone, although he sounds ragged and drowsy during “Silver Lining.” It’s nearly impossible to tell that he’s a New Zealander. At least until the way he pronounces the word “heaven” on “In Heaven” gives his roots away.
Much like Gannaway’s home country, this music is an exotic, faraway place in relationship to the rest of the overall modern musical landscape. Nevertheless, these unique Gannaway sounds offer a pleasant getaway.
Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh
It's nice, during Splendid's final days, to review the sort of record whose appearance on these pages really differentiates this site from other music-reviewing sites. New Zealand-based singer/songwriter Daniel Gannaway is the sort of guy that readers outside of New Zealand have probably never heard of -- unless they read Splendid.
Summer Storm is, as its subtitle suggests, an album built upon the small, frequently tinny, altogether unassuming sounds that Gannaway can choke out of a ukulele. His interest in the instrument will inevitably lead listeners to compare his work to that of Stephin Merritt, whose love for the uke has made it a mainstay of Magnetic Fields and 6ths albums for more than a decade. However, the two artists' use of the instrument couldn't be more different. Merritt tends to bring on the ukes for songs that need to sound quiet, resigned and sad, or tracks that should sound whimsical and bouncy. Gannaway's ambition for the tiny, four-stringed guitar is far grander -- it's the central instrument on every track, expressing sarcastically delivered outrage ("A Just Senator") and moody, Mark Eitzel-style happy-sadness ("Summer Storm"). It holds its ground amid drum-tracking, piano plinking and bass guitar throbbing ("In Heaven"). Of course, Gannaway also uses it in more traditionally ukulele-friendly contexts -- whistles-and-hopefulness opener "Across The Sea", for example -- and in spite of his ambition, these are some of Summer's strongest efforts. "Across The Sea", in fact, only stumbles when the chorus intrudes with a too-heavy keyboard line and an inexplicable time-signature/key change.
Gannaway's songs are generally well-written and entertaining, and he seems to have approached the album's ukulele focus as a framing restriction, rather as a poet will adopt a classic poem form in order deliberately to give focus and structure to his work. As a result, Summer Storm is an intriguing outing, neither overly precious nor excessively novelty-oriented.
Reviewed by Brett McCallon
Albums by kiwi [NZ] indie singer/songwriter Daniel Gannaway:
2008 - JOINED LIKE NOTES
2007 - HEADING FOR COUNTRY
2006 - OP-ED: Environmental / Social / Political
2005 - SUMMER STORM | A collection of ukulele ditties
2004 - darling one year
2002 - BOOTLEGGED AT THE 12 BAR CLUB [released 2006]
2001 - Bound and Suburban
2000 - Bootlegged at the Temple
1999 - flashback*
1998 - FINE BY ME
More truly independent releases:
2008 - ELECPHONIC: TRIPLEPHONIC
2007 - ELECPHONIC: SOPHOMOREPHONIC
2006 - ELECPHONIC: ELECPHONIC
2004 - kidameln - the kidameln lo-fi
truly independent has kidameln's debut & Daniel's first 3 albums in the CD Baby $5 Specials!
truly independent recommends a newly recovered live gem of Daniel:
BOOTLEGGED AT THE 12 BAR CLUB
[11 Songs - Solo Acoustic - London - April 2002]
Recorded live in an intimate little venue in the centre of London – the 12 Bar Club – Daniel’s vocal range and delicate guitar, sometimes complimented by harmonica, are collected surprisingly well and make for a beautifully meandering compilation.
OP-ED: Environmental / Social / Political
"Documenting many of Daniel's previously unrecorded songs of environmental, social and political importance, OP-ED is an inspired compilation of acoustic material on guitar and ukulele - all recorded in Hawaii during February of 2006."
SUMMER STORM | A collection of ukulele ditties
"Written and recorded in Hawaii and New Zealand, Summer Storm - Daniel's sixth solo outing - references laidback island life with the ukulele's nylon strings, while wrapping it up in the kind of dynamic folk/indie-rock/electronic feel..."
"...like Gannaway's home country, this music [SUMMER STORM] is an exotic, faraway place in relationship to the rest of the overall modern musical landscape. Nevertheless, these unique Gannaway sounds offer a pleasant getaway" - Indie-Music.
"...The great aspect of the album [SUMMER STORM] is that each song's arrangement maintains a minimalistic nature, which shows a discipline and a depth of understanding on Gannaway's part. Underneath the ukelele, the cruising drums and harmonic supporting bass grooves provide an all around easy and easily recommendable listen..." - NZ Musician Magazine
darling one year
"...A perfect blend of lyrics, emotion and rhythm...If your looking for some refreshing new music for the soul, I whole-heartedly recommend darling one year as a must have for your collection." - AllAboutSurf.com
"...Down to earth and laid back, it has none of the musical tension of trying too hard or the injection of false emotions. Suburban folky and bohemian chic, it [darling one year] ties up agreeably layered and distorted vocals into an angst-ridden, quirky pop as catchy as The Strokes but easily as mysteriously engaging as James Keenan Maynard..." - Indie-Music.com
Daniel's music is available from such online digital providers as: CD Baby; SNOCAP; Mp3tunes; AudioLunchbox; Apple iTunes Music Store; Rhapsody; Napster; BuyMusic; Emusic; Sony Connect...
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