Single Serving: Dan Croll's Unexpected Gym Jam
  • MONDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2014

  • Posted by: David Pitz

Recent graduate of The Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts, winner of The National Songwriter of the Year Award, pals with Sir Paul McCartney. Dan Croll can roll off an impressive bullet list of credentials if he wanted to. But it's the music the 23-year-old, English songwriter churns out that is most impressive. "From Nowhere", the opening track and lead single from his debut album Sweet Disarray, sounds like the product of tilt-a-whirls, carousels, and cotton candy. But this gem wasn't born in some hyper-active, blinking arcade. Instead, Croll and his mates decamped to an abandoned primary school gym in Liverpool, immediately planting dim and dreary images ripped right out of Billy Elliot in my mind. Even worse is the smell such a scene triggers...adolescent B-O, dirty laundry, and mildew. Nasty. This gym, however, not so much.

"It was a lovely big space," Croll recently told us. "So sound-wise we had a lot of control over the amount of natural reverb on the instruments, which you should hear on the album." A few spins into the new album and the picture gets a little more vivid; boys lounging about on pull out bleachers, laying down tracks amongst climbing ropes and rolled up wrestling mats. Not surprisingly, the crew had some extracurricular fun with the space in between takes. "We pulled out all of the old gym apparatus and set up a badminton court." A heap of fun indeed, with an unexpected effect on the album as a whole. "I think badminton played a big role in those songs coming out well, it was great to record and then reflect on what you've done whilst playing a game with your mates."

Critically speaking, Croll has already received plenty of nods of approval. But one gets the sense that success is not what matters at this point. "I've been waiting years to release an album. There are songs on the album that I've had for a couple of years as well as very recent ones, so it's a whole bunch of material that I'm hoping people will love. I'm very proud of this album, and I'm itching to get it out there for all to enjoy." Come April 1st, Croll will have his wish. Until then, enjoy "From Nowhere" below.



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