Opening with Death of Me, which was also his debut single, this is perhaps the most traditional sounding of the four songs. Starting with a simple piano refrain, the soulful vocals begin gently evoking a late night, last person standing at the bar feeling. The lyrics talk about the intensity of a relationship, and how someone can become the centre of your universe blocking out the sights and sounds all around even if they’re not in the same room. And then the chorus hits with an understated but memorable multi-tracked riff that suddenly takes a left turn into something more modern, distorted and urgent to reflect the burning passion in the lyrics. Vocally Dan ramps it up too, demonstrating the power in his voice and his ability to turn it up to eleven effortlessly when required. As the song comes to a conclusion the keyboard refrain returns and we wind down towards the end.
If you were expecting more of the same, then track 2 Like Animals will take you by surprise as it kicks in with a strongly distorted and strident riff driven forward by a pounding drum beat. Vocally we’re on a roller-coaster, with understated melodic verses that explode into huge-stadium filling choruses which once again speak of intensity and passion. The break down in the middle features a fuzzy, dirty guitar sound that manages to sound both familiar and fresh at the same time. Dan once again pushes the VU meters into the red as he knows exactly when to give it everything and then rein back the power for the more subdued sections of the song. This is a perfect example of a carefully constructed song by someone who knows just what he wants to achieve and how to take the listener on a journey. Having heard Dan play this song at Sharkfest for the first time I can confirm that it is a monster and is sure to become a firm live favourite.
Track 3 heralds an abrupt change in mood and tempo, with the arrival of the EP’s big power ballad, Easier. Starting quietly with a simple piano line, the lyrics speak of the emptiness felt when you are separated from a lover. Building gently, a simple, evocative guitar break leads us towards the plaintive chorus. This time the power in the vocals is used sparingly, but effectively to evoke pain and longing. As the song spirals ever upwards into the stratosphere carried on a swell of strings, Dan wrenches out the emotional pain of the lyrics before we crash down and fade out with a symmetrical echo of the central piano theme. Seriously, if some X Factor wannabe had released this song it would be knocking on the door at the upper reaches of the singles chart. It has huge cross over potential and if it was picked up by national radio it could make Dan a superstar.
Where do you go from there? The answer is Hard To Breathe which opens with a swell of synths and a very modern guitar sound that leads us into the smouldering passion of the lyrics. Once again Dan knows just when to push the volume and when to hold back for emphasis. The melody builds in momentum, underpinned by a driving rhythm and increasingly strident guitars. As the song progresses and the vocal mood changes, the riffing becomes heavier and more menacing as the intensity of the relationship burns ever brighter.
With these four very different tracks, Dan sets out his musical stall and announces his presence as a solo artist to be reckoned with.