ALBUM REVIEW – DAN HAMANN – LUMBERING GRACE
DAN HAMANN – LUMBERING GRACE
Dan Hamann delivers a whimsical ode to the grand tradition of comedy rock with the joyous “Lumbering Grace”. Genre-hopping with gleeful abandon, he brings together a whole potpourri of approaches from swinging sea shanties to the bluest of the blues, doing all of it with so much gusto. Instrumentally the entire album is a true treat for the sheer number of instruments, musicians, and spirits that are infused within the trip are akin to a virtual United Nations’ worth of talent. Beyond this the true heart and soul of the album, from which all else flows, is the clever and oftentimes hilariously weird and wonderful lyricism of Dan Hamann. His voice, with its tremendous amount of range, ties together the entire thing in a way that feels almost literary in terms of its sheer dexterity and word choice.
Influences abound throughout the entirety of the album. The strange celebratory air of Flight of the Concords definitely plays a role, for, like their work, Dan Hamann does not limit himself to a single genre, choosing an eclectic mix. His wordplay recalls the giddy silly approach of the true masters of the comedy rock genre, Tenacious D, in terms of their sheer songwriting ability. For all the goofy and playful lyricism the arrangements are exceptional showing a true talent for form. Everything builds up in a glorious way imbuing these narratives with heart. The mundane proves to be a particular target, as his musings at times have a nod towards the droll humor of Nick Baker’s, specifically his book “The Mezzanine”.
Nowhere is the Nick Baker energy stronger than on the grandiose opener “This Shirt Don’t Feel Right”. Delivered flawlessly, the piano works to perfectly punctuate the power of his words. Lightly, lilting classical cadences unfurl over the giddy take of “Fonzie Dies With Us” where he explores the loss of a singular language of cultural references. Going for a nice slice of the blues is the thoughtful realization of “The Dog Song”. The ridiculous vigilante soliloquy of “Block Captain” pokes fun at those who take their positions way, way too seriously. Fantastic guitar work alongside the unusual percussion gives “You Deserve Someone” a sort of Jerry Paper quality, as he explores a mutant form of lounge music. A whole stream of consciousness radiates from the center of “Blue”.
Country slide guitar effortlessly blends alongside the sweeping strings of “Spider Bridge”. Here the tongue is firmly in the cheek, as it messes with the concept of a love song in a way that is completely original. Weird woozy arrangements come to the forefront on the surprising funk of “Mighty Illusion”. “And Then They Paid Me” explores the weirdness and loneliness of starting a career. Accordion makes “Pico de Gallo” a delight with a wonderful little oompah to it. Channeling the frustration of trying to get through a traffic jam is “Traffic Jam”. Neatly bringing the whole thing to a close is the gentle demeanor of “Lullabye”.
A stylistic tour de force, Dan Hamann offers “Lumbering Grace” with a tremendous spirit of celebration, happiness, and plenty of dry sardonic wit.