The new joint live acoustic tour project of Danny Vaughn (the lead singer of Tyketto) and Dan Reed (the man behind funk rockers Dan Reed Network) is a wonderfully symbiotic amalgamation of their undeniable skills, and the project is called SNAKE OIL & HARMONY.
At the end of this month they will release their first studio album titled Hurricane Riders together. We had an early listen:
Snake oil is a mountebankery. While harmony is a matter of cohesion. So is SNAKE OIL & HARMONY an intelligent — yet cryptic — bellyache about the despicability of the industry that these two visionary gurus have worked hard, all their lives, to be part of? Or is it just a comment on the global diversity and disparity (the “Crooked and the Straight”) that affects everyone?
Either way, it’s a neat trick. And this album is an interesting trip into the minds of two divergent yet kindred individuals who don’t mind telling it the way they find it:
The guys have already released the splendid “Last Man Standing” with its Bruce Hornsby style piano (and with Bengt Jonasson on Bass, and Robert Ikiz on Drums.) It is a friendly and gracefully tempered song with an impeccably presented thicket of guitars that bring a growing sense of lambent interconnection with some mellisonant vocal lines.
“Dance in the Heart of the Sun” is reminiscent of “Circle of Life” (Elton John’s Lion King) and is proud to wear its 1990s credentials on the sleeves of its striped sweaters and letterman jacket. It’s about dawn and beginnings, realization and awakening. The song radiates truth and intelligent philosophy: “You can tell a rich man by the people that he holds close...” and is so nostalgic that dark matter from ’95 will seep into your nostrils if you’re not careful…
“Another Reason” has lubricating bass notes and good rhythms and the lyrics focus on the hope that love brings in comparison to the gloom and weariness of this ragged world.
“Aberfan” is a strange subject choice for a guy from Portland, Oregon and another from New York to sing about. The 1966 disaster hit the headlines worldwide and made a huge impact. A colliery spoil tip (slag heap) collapsed onto homes and a school in the South Wales town of Aberfan, killing 116 children and 28 adults. Of course, like all gentle-natured folk songs that dwell on unspeakable disaster, this places emphasis on the light that hope brings in the depths of such despair. But, if you don’t like sentimentalism, it may be better to look away or skip this track, although it’s brought without schmaltz or bathos and actually focuses on mankind’s compulsion to find thin hope in the bleakest moments.
“Where the Water Goes” is abuzz with rumbles from the darker strings on these guy’s guitars. This number has a swaying and delicately sophisticated arrangement. There is a maudlin quality to it — there’s no point denying it — but it’s not altogether cringeworthy; just poignant and perhaps a little syrupy. There’s no doubt that the chorus will have audiences in its thrall, singing along with the cradlesome roll of the chords, and maybe that’s what good music is really all about — getting folks to come together as one to celebrate togetherness.
If you don’t care much for the kind of neoliberalism and political skepticism that appeared around 1995 (in other words, if you’re a hard line Trumpian jingoist) it’s probable you won’t like the “feel” of this album, even though it’s quite likely you are the target audience. It’s well-intentioned, consciously political and liberalistic in nature, with a whole bunch of big-hearted country-rock and Americana songs that bring delicious voices, exquisite guitar play and carefully observed lyrics to a wider audience.
So, not for everyone, but nevertheless this is an encouraging percolation of honesty and compassion.
Snake Oil & Harmony
Album: Hurricane Riders
Release Date: Feb 28, 2020
Label: Zero One Entertainment
Words: @neilmach 2020 ©