"Reattachment" is the new Compositional Rock album from Chicago based composer Dan Wallace. Listen to the samples, read the reviews, and buy the album.
Review by David Mead in American Songwriter Magazine (Sept/Oct 2008 Issue)
Dan Wallace wastes no time proclaiming his aural affection for a few different strains of guitar goddery on Reattachment (Torito Bravo). The album’s melodies slide over and around beds of ax triumph that effortlessly recall the best of Robert Quine’s latter work with Matthew Sweet. Wallace is tasteful with his indulgences, however; in fact, it is downright refreshing to hear some 32nd note trilling in the context of such songs as the title track and the elegant, Django Reinhardt stylings of “Odd Man Out”. It must be assumed that this is quite a treat to witness live, with Wallace’s supple fingerwork providing all the pyrotechnics necessary.
Review by AJJ at Glaswerk.co.uk (August 2008)
The music industry is a cold and heartless beast, or as Hunter S. Thompson put it, “A cruel and shallow money trench…” Now without taking that quote out of its original context (Thompson actually uses it to glorify the music trade) for the purpose of this review, I include it to highlight the importance of people like Dan Wallace. A man that proves it’s not all about crack, lawyers, leeches, pimps and preachers.
Dan Wallace is an enigma in the modern music world. An anomaly of strange and wonderful sorts that makes you realise it’s not all bad (or good, as Thompson would twist you into believing.)
Standing like a beacon in an ocean-sized swamp, Wallace embodies not only the sound of wild and rumbustuous past generations, he surrounds it in a spirit and aura of independence. What is there to respect anymore if not independence? Out there somewhere in Chicago where the sun beats down on the wind and burns the streets like magic magma and dust covers the invisible pain of bad trips on the great lake, there is a sound that doesn’t quite flow. A sound as distant from the location as it is from its time.
Reattachment is pop sugar from a sperm whale’s blowhole, it's funky melodrama and twisted irony, and an almost lazy rhythm ‘n’ blues. With a tidy gloss like prehistoric amber-coated fossil this post-modern organism is the 2008 vintage homebrew right out of an Illinois wine cellar.
Now, I’m talking collectively rather than track specifically. It doesn’t matter to me if you buy Reattachment, Culture of Self or Neon and Gold. They’re all special pieces of work as far as I’m concerned and they don’t sound all that different from each other. If per chance say you listen to Dungen, The Shins, The Eels and Zappa then add this man to your collection of unerring folk pop music.
Dan Wallace sends out his music personally because he specifically wants you to hear it. He even signs the cover letters himself. Crackers, I know, but it’s the little things that make the difference nowadays from the pits of this “cruel and shallow money trench”.
Review by Bert Saraco at The Phantom Tollbooth (August 2008)
Dan Wallace has managed to do it again.
Repeating his success but not retracing his musical steps, Wallace gives us "Reattachment", the follow-up to last year’s eclectic and mesmerizing "Culture of Self" album. Self-revelatory without becoming self-indulgent, "Reattachment" reveals Wallace’s brilliance as a rock composer and instrumentalist as well as his gift for writing and delivering obscure but intriguing lyrics. As has been his pattern, Dan Wallace has once again produced an original album not designed for the mainstream or the musically squeamish.
The opening track, “Reattachment,” is a moody, moderate-tempo track that begins with an exquisite burst of guitar work over a bed of bass, acoustic guitar and drums, followed shortly by the introduction of Wallace’s vocals. The over-all effect is like Jack Bruce channeling David Bowie’s Commander Tom as Wallace sings harmony parts separated by at least an octave, the near-falsetto lead part dominating and lending an air of ‘lost-ness’ to the lyric. An MRI scan of Wallace’s brain is used in the CD cover art (by Vesna Jovanovic), and emphasizes the fact that Wallace is inviting us into his deepest observances, disappointments, confusions and conclusions about life up to this point.
Like on "Culture of Self", Wallace treats us to some instrumental pieces on "Reattachment". “South of Heaven” is a delightful waltz featuring Dan on acoustic guitars and multi-tracked vocals, “Brittle Tongues” is a short guitar piece with a slightly oriental flavor, and “Elegy” is an elegant acoustic guitar composition featuring dazzling finger work and a classical/jazz/flamenco approach that results in slightly more than four minutes of guitar-lovers’ heaven. Although Wallace’s background in chamber music is evident even in the rock compositions, it becomes even more noticeable in his solo guitar moments like this one.
Introduced by a barrage of drums, “Invisible Lines” displays Wallace’s amazing use of melody, time changes and interesting chord progressions, as he effortlessly creates perfect musical sense out of dissonance, melodic leaps and carnival-like tempo changes. Behind all of this is Wallace’s amazing guitar, bass, synth, hand drum and vocal skill. As a singer, Wallace has great range and a vulnerable, unaffected style: able to slip in and out of falsetto parts, and possessing a natural vibrato at the end of a phrase, Wallace’s voice falls somewhere between Brian Wilson and Dan Hicks (speaking of Dan Hicks – “Odd Man Out,” with its Django-esqe guitar licks and frantic pace, sounds tailor-made for Hicks and his Hot Licks!).
“Spellbound,” for its surreal and disturbing lyrics (“…razor in the right hand / drugs in the milk / these surreal amnesia dreams / slinking through guilt labyrinthine …”) is a progressive art-pop tour-de-force, with Wallace at his most appealingly off-beat Beach Boys-meet-Todd Rundgren mode, throwing in a stunning jazz-pop section near the end. It’s ‘out there’ enough to make it a challenging listen, and engaging enough to capture all but the dullest of ears.
_Reattachment_ is full of good moments, such as the Zappa-like guitar solo on “Go Ahead,” and the surprisingly straight-forward love song, “Easy Come Easy Go,” which closes the album on a non-threatening, gentle note. This eclectic project is not without its poignant moments, one of which comes on the haunting “Thanks For the People,” where Wallace asks: “if I am nothing, what does that make you? / if you are nothing, what does that make me? / thank you for tearing me apart here today / You don’t have to, I don’t ask you / you do it anyway…” Still, he ends with the words, “Thank you for hearing.”
Thanks, Dan Wallace, for giving us so much to hear.
Review by Jon Worley at Aiding & Abetting (August 2008)
I've been impressed by Wallace's work for years. One of my favorite things about him is that he doesn't stand still. He's equally adept in the worlds of pop, rock, blues and country, and he often melds them in interesting ways. The title track (and first song) is a great spacey piece. The second song takes a great blues lick and turns it into an intricate rocker. And so it goes.
I do believe that Wallace has gained confidence over the years. His early stuff was simpler, or at least, he didn't try to incorporate as many different ideas in a single song. He not only blenderizes just about every song on this album, he does so with a style and grace that is almost unthinkable.
One of the more interesting things I noticed on a couple tracks here was a definite Steve Miller influence. The good Steve Miller, the bluesman who threw some stellar guitar work into 70s rock and created a handful of the greatest rock and roll songs of all time. Wallace refuses to dumb down his ideas, which means that his songs never quite reach Miller's epochal middle-of-the-road sound, but there are hints of what might be.
Plenty of other hints as well, such as the occasional Reinhardtian guitar run and such. Indeed, the most impressive thing about Wallace's music is his guitar work. But his increasingly complex and stirring songwriting is catching up. This is his strongest work to date. And I don't hear any reason why he'd be falling off any time in the near future.
Review by Mark Suppanz in The Big Takeover Magazine (Issue #63, Winter 2008)
This restless composer-turned-songwriter (formerly co-Director of the Chicago Chamber Music Collective) seems eager to make up for lost time since his band The Pindrops broke up in 2004. This is now his third solo album in three years, following Neon and Gold and Culture of Self. As before, he employs traditional rock instruments, playing most of them himself, while subtly infusing more wide-ranging, eclectic styles, like classical waltzes, jazz-tinged flamenco, and Zappa-inspired blues folk – you can even detect an underlying Radiohead influence, as on “27”. Meanwhile, Wallace gracefully croons his introspective, esoteric lyrics in an almost stream-of-consciousness manner, in a voice that hints of Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, and on the contemplative “Spellbound,” Brian Wilson. Once again, he’s managed to turn out another intriguing, idiosyncratic, and involving work.
Review by Roland Leicht at World of Prog-Music (www.prog-rock.info) (September 2008)
Von dem amerikanischen Songwriter Dan Wallace habe ich letztes Jahr schon das Vorgänger-Album 'Culture Of Self' besprochen. Ein hochinteressantes Album am Rande des Rock, das vor allem ein bißchen an Frank Zappa erinnerte. Jetzt gibt es mit 'Reattachment' einen neuen Output. Und ich muss sagen, dass diese CD eindeutig leichter zu verdauen ist. Teilweise richtig schöne Melodien (z.B. der Song 'South Of Heaven'), die so richtig flockig und fröhlich runtergehen wie Öl. Solche Seiten waren auf dem Vorgänger-Album noch nicht zu hören. Aber auch das zappaeske kommt nicht zu kurz ('Invisible Lines', um nur mal einen Song zu nennen). Insgesamt ist Dan Wallace aber melodischer geworden, ohne auch nur eine Sekunde langweilig zu klingen. Dan Wallace spielt ja alle Instrumente selbst (nur auf ein paar Stücken wird er von Schlagzeuger George Lawler unterstützt) und ich möchte vor allem sein Gitarrenspiel hervorheben, das sich vor Szene-Größen nicht verstecken braucht. Klar ist auch 'Reattachment' nicht wirklich leichte Kost und es braucht schon ein paar Hördurchgänge, bis sich die einzelnen Songs erschließen (auch wenn sie mit so zwischen 3 und 6 Minuten nicht wirklich lang und kompliziert sind). Doch lohnt sich wirklich der Zeitaufwand, um in die Musik richtig einzutauchen. Musikliebhaber die auch abseits des Prog ein Ohr riskieren, sollten Dan Wallace auf jeden Fall mal antesten.