Dan Kennedy is that guy in the corner who admittedly looks more like a banker than a rocker. Hmm, where do I know that banker from? Neither burdened by nor gifted with the gene for self-promotion, you might never guess that this unassuming guy's career highlights include making his solo performance debut at the largest live music festival in the country and singing onstage with America and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Born in the Berkshires, raised in Boston, and transplanted to the frozen tundra at 17, he first picked up the guitar as a means of maintaining sanity during a stint in the Navy. A life-long affection for melody and harmony and a sensitive approach to accompaniment soon led to a string of supporting roles on the stage and in the studio for countless singer-songwriters. All the while, this "quintessential side man" was quietly finding his own voice as a singer and songwriter with his songs being covered by country-pop teen singers, punk rockers, and even a funk band.
"Seems Like Forever," Dan's second solo release on Slothtrop, is an eclectic continuation of the panoptic pop featured in his collaborations with winsome singer-songwriter Amy Curl, the songs now tinged with blues, soul, and jazz. Influences break the surface constantly—a bit of Robert Cray here, a little Lyle Lovett there, maybe a touch of Los Lobos if you listen carefully—but they're always tempered with his own voice. "I often try to write for other performers," says Dan, "but it usually comes out sounding like me in the end."
The production is a bit fuller than previous releases but still aims to retain some semblance of space. "I was lucky to find just the right group of players to bring in on this recording. These guys—Matt Rodgers on bass, Bob Boyd on drums, and Jaye Barbeau on keys—all have that special blend of skill, creativity, and sensitivity." remarks Kennedy, "They all know what it means to listen. That blend is what I try to bring to every session I do, so it was nice to have it come back around for my own project."
For Kennedy, in the end it's always about the songs, and from the old-school "Fool's Game" to the playful, slide guitar-driven "Last Dime" to the mournful, richly harmonic "One-Note Stand," an honest affection for melody and harmony shines through with an approachable pop sensibility.