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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Dan Israel

You're Free

Review by Gary Hill

Dan Israel has managed to pack quite a bit of variety into this set. All that is delivered in the course of something that's probably best described as "singer/songwriter based folk rock." There are blues rock elements here, space rock and psychedelic things and more. For my money, it misses the mark a bit some of the time because of a bit awkward feeling to some of the vocal performances. That said, if you like Bob Dylan, you'll feel right at home because it's awkward in the same way as Dylan's vocals are. I'm not a huge fan of Dylan, so it only works so well for me. Still, there is plenty of music here that really rises above that. All in all, this is a good release that's a bit uneven but really gains points for the variety.

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Track by Track Review
Gets You Through It
Imagine combining Tom Petty with Bob Dylan. You would wind up with something that sounds rather like this. There is a bit of an awkward edge to the cut, but it almost lends a charm to it. Although the arrangement is essentially an acoustic one, there are electric elements and other things that bring a bit of a psychedelic edge at times.
You're Free
A bit more of a rocker, the basic concepts here are not that far removed from the opener. This has some solid hooks and the higher energy level works well for it. This has a bit of a punk rock edge to it.
Back to You
The slightly unpolished vibe on this adds to its charm. The organ work on the cut is tasty. I really love the electric guitar solo on this. The violin (or perhaps it should be called "fiddle") at the end lends a bit of a country edge to it. 
Long Gone Dream
Old school blues and country merge on this number. It's a killer down-home styled piece. This really elevates the set, feeling a bit like a cross between Canned Heat and Led Zeppelin. The guitar solo really fits the piece so well.
Make This Life Mine
After an intriguing introduction, this works to a folk leaning mainstream rocker. This has a good energy and a lot of intriguing vibes. It's another highlight of the set. There are even some hints of progressive rock in terms of some of the layers of musical icing and especially in the cool psychedelic rocking jam movements.
Feeling Better
This is an intriguing cut. It is a catchy kind of folk rock piece that's not far removed from the first few songs of the disc, but it has some hints of psychedelia (particularly in the little bit that rises up at the end).
Someday You'll Say
Tom Petty and Bob Dylan are again both on hand here in terms of the sounds. This is a folk rocker with some hints of DIY and punk rock. There are some interesting guitar fills in the instrumental section mid-track.
If I Didn't Have You
Coming in with a real country vibe, this gets some dream pop concepts as it works forward. There are things about this that make me think of Mazzy Star, but with male vocals. Well, there are some female backing vocals, but the lead ones are all Israel.
Stay on the Run
A mellower, folk based tune, there is a rough around the edges charm to this piece.
Soul Will Be Found
The first half of this has a rather rough around the edges roots rock basis. As the piece progresses and other layers come over the top, though, it begins to get a bit of a psychedelic space rock vibe. While I'm not crazy about the first half, I really like it when it gets more trippy.
Porch Storm
The sounds of a storm open this. The piece works forward into a cool instrumental jam that has some back porch bluesy country sound in it. It's a great way to end the disc in style, and one of the best tunes here.
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