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Dan Hazlett

The Corner of My Eye

Review by G. W. Hill

Dan Hazlett is a good songwriter with a sound that captures a nice hunk of Americana. He never really fails in terms of delivering good songs. The trouble with this album is that sometimes it’s a bit monolithic. The thing is, there are pieces that bring a decent amount of variety to the table. Rearranging the songs somewhat would really help. Still, taking this track by track it works quite well. All in all, this is a good album that could have been improved upon. Still, as classy and tasty as this is, that would just be icing on the cake.

Track by Track Review
Alchemy of Fish

A bouncy little melody opens this tune up. It’s a playful and fun bit that grows out from there into a roots rock jam with a lot of blues in the mix. The mix of instruments and backing vocals here really work very well.

What the Heart Knows
This feels more like 1970s soft rock in a lot of ways. It’s got a great blend of sounds, too, but is less bluesy. It’s got a catchy hook and some great tones. There is a soulful, almost gospel feeling to the cut later.
Empty Room
Here we get more of a folk meets singer songwriter sound. It’s a classic sound and has some great moments. While in some ways, it’s not as impressive as some of the rest here, it has a real charm to it. The harmonica is a nice touch and there is really a bit of a Grateful Dead vibe to this in some ways, along with a Paul Simon element. It does seem to go on a bit too long, though.
The Corner of My Eye
There is almost a mysterious soft rock sound that opens the title track. As it continues there is almost a jazz sound to the mix at points. The guitar has a real bluesy edge. The vocals on this cut mar it a bit, at times feeling a little rough around the edges. Still, the overall arrangement is strong enough to overcome that kind of problem.
Alien
More bouncy folk music is the order of the day here. It’s catchy and one of the stronger cuts on the disc, despite having one of the least adventurous arrangements. It’s just very effective.
Nobody's Fool
Energetic and fun, this is a classic tune. It’s got a lot of old school jazz in the mix (brought home by the horn solo), but it also has a bit of a Grateful Dead vibe, too.
Built to Last
As this one opens up there is definitely a bit of a country music feeling to it. It gets a bit more in the folk rock genre as it continues, but there is definitely still some country throughout the tune. The slide guitar is the main purveyor of that sound, though.
Postcard from Paris
More pure folk, this is good, but suffers a bit from a little bit of “sameness” that’s starting to creep into the album. Still, some of the hooks and guitar playing stand up pretty well. There is a little bit of Paris café music at the end of the piece. That’s an appropriate ending. It’s also a nice bit of variety.
Secret Tattoo
Here we get another tune that works pretty well. It’s got a lot of energy, but is again starting to suffer from the monolithic nature here. Honestly, there are some songs here that bring more variety to the table than this one and the last couple. I think that rearranging the tunes a bit might have given a better angle to the disc. Still, I haven’t tried programming it differently.
Basic Hard to Tell
Mellow and rather intricate, this is more folk-like music. While there is still some of that “samey” problem, this works better. Part of that is because of the male female duet, but also just because of the strength of the song. It feels more emotional and immediate than some of the other music here. The bit of horn later in the tune is a nice touch, too.
The Other Side of Dawn
Now, this is more like it. The whole superstructure isn’t changed that much, but there’s more of a rock sound to it. It has more energy and “oomph” than a lot of the other music here. Jazz elements are clearly built into the arrangement, too. This is one of the strongest tunes on the whole disc.
Where the Blue Meets the Blue
Slow and balladic, the closing cut is one of the best on the album. It’s quite dramatic and evocative. Normally, I’m not a fan of closing an album with such a mellow shot, somehow it really works well here. This is one of my favorite tunes on the whole set.
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