Danny! has been making and using his own beats since his debut, "The College Kicked-Out", was released in 2004, but it wasn't until a few albums in that he decided to release a record that showcased this skill only. "Dream, Interrupted", which was meant to accompany "Charm" (some of the tracks were originally supposed to be included on that record), is a 23-song affair that highlights the production talents of Danny! (or, as he prefers to be called here, Daniel Swain).
But "Dream..." is not so much an album of beats over which to rap (though those certainly exist) as a complete musical entity in itself, melodic and warm. As with his other work, sped-up soul samples dominate the beats, violins playing an equal role to the percussion tracks he lays down underneath. Yes, Swain has a formula (a short vocal sample, four-bar loops) that he sticks to pretty well, but he's also careful to bring in enough other elements so that things don't get too predictable. "Dream On" uses salsa guitar chord changes with a more straightforward hip-hop beat, "Jaded" transforms "Superstar" into an eerie but reflective piano- and drum-driven piece, while "Passion Fruit" is light and breezy and loungey without becoming saccharine.
A heightened sense of emotion is actually a problem from which Swain suffers from occasionally, with a few too many of his songs turning into explorations in smooth jazz, soaring tenor sax included, but thankfully there are enough strong moments on the album -- the previously mentioned "Jaded," "Sea of Tomorrow," "Salon des Refuses," to name a few -- that are well put together (he's very good at adding just right amount of layers: enough to be engaging and fun but not so many to seem conceited or overblown) and interesting.
"Dream, Interrupted" runs smoothly as a whole, as a contemplative landscape, proving that when you have a lot to say, as Swain does, it comes out just as clearly in your beats as it does your rhymes.
~ Marisa Brown, All Music Guide