Album review: DAN PATLANSKY – Dear Silence Thieves

Dan Patlansky Music Pty Ltd [release date 27.04.15]

This is Dan Patlansky’s time. The South African singer-songwriter and blues rocker has paid his dues over 15 years or more, and now that he’s cut the best album of his career he’s here to collect.

‘Dear Silence Thieves’ is his 7th album and finds him locked in with experienced producer Theo Crous who gives the project an extra pair of ears. The result is a slickly produced, song driven, blues rock album with occasionally funky influences and a melodic pop heart.

It’s an album full of subtle layered sounds and intricately woven guitar parts that support his husky voice and a batch of songs that occasionally hit base.

At times he evokes Philip Sayce’s bristling style and Joe Bonamassa’s concise solos, but a judicious blend of original lyrics, killer licks and a big production give him his own DNA.

In truth, Dan doesn’t have an outstanding voice and it’s not until the sweeping chorus of ‘Hold On’ that he truly nails a memorable song. But when he does deliver, it’s well worth the wait as it defines what the rest of the album aims for.

‘Hold On is a song worth dwelling over. It’s got a Peter Gabriel style vocal that draws you in. His guitar playing subtly weaves in and out of the track in a conversational manner that responds to the repeated hook and cleverly mirrors the lyrical concern of the passing of time.

The album title refers to those annoying people who talk their way through gigs. And whether that observation is based on personal experience or just the fact he considered it a cool title, this is an album that has enough presence to warrant its title.

The opening funky keyboard line of ‘Backbite’ might sound derivative – take your pick from Stevie Wonder, Stevie Ray Vaughan or The Hoax – but its impressive enough to set the standard for the rest of a consistently good album bolstered by a booming production.

In sharp contrast, ‘Pop Collar Jockey’ smoulders with a dirgy tempo and a distorted tone bathed in echo reverb, but Dan eventually soars on the back of a shimmering slide guitar line as part of an imposing layered sound that buries itself deep into your psyche.

The same process imbues the heavier riff-led ‘Fetch Your Spade’ which has a curiously muffled vocal on an uplifting chorus. The edgy production and sudden drop-down to fazed vocals gives the piece its dreamy feel.

It’s back to the blues-rock template on the short, sharp and in the pocket shuffle ‘Taking Chances’, with a tip of the hat to SRV. But just as you settle for it being an anchor track to a bluesy album, he surprises us with the James Blunt meets Coldplay style ‘Windmills And The Sea’. Much like the closing waltz-time ‘Madison Lane’, this unexpected slice of melodic pop suggests an extra depth to his song writing.

Such is the impact of this song, that the following hard funk of ‘Only An Ocean (Reprise)’ initially struggles to emulate it.

It’s a slow burner that reveals itself on a heartfelt chorus: I’m just across the river, Only an oceans drive away’. He thickens his sonic palate with an additional wah-wah line and a perfunctory finish that transforms the slow building song into something more essential.

It’s back to blues with a croaked emotive vocal that magically clears on the slow building ballad ‘Your War’. It’s the kind of song that will undoubtedly find a place deep into his concert set list.

They always say a slow blues is the hardest way to convince anyone of your blues credentials, but Dan’s conversational solo is totally convincing even if the sudden ending isn’t.

‘Dear Silence Thieves’ stands up to close scrutiny. It’s Dan’s best album so far and if it’s not a definitive release, that’s because there’s almost certainly plenty more to come from a blues-rocker on the up. ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

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