"Country Music" has become a swear word in most music nerd vocab books. In the same way that "Pop" now serves as an adjective to describe anything catchy - yet lacking depth, the country music scene has, for years, served as an anthem-focused, product placing, sales machine that Nashville has been the epicentre of. In the 1950's they called this the "Nashville Sound." Since then word country has been disguised by phrases like "Americana" or "Roots," it has also been counteracted with prefixes like "alt-," but screw it - let's just call it what it is: Dan Layus
's Dangerous Things
is Country with a capital C.
Dan Layus, who is best known for being the frontman of Augustana, debuted his solo project in October with the release of Dangerous Things
. After Augustana disbanded, Layus moved from Los Angeles to Tennessee and this pilgrimage can be heard on the 11 track album. During the cross country move, he abandoned the big productions and full arrangements which came to define Augustana's sound, and found something more stripped down and to the point on the banks of the Cumberland river. With Dangerous Things
, Layus limited his sound to guitar, pedal steel, fiddle, and piano and the sparse arrangements helped to expose
His skill as a storyteller and brings his ideas to the forefront of the record. Country music as well as southern culture is famous for an emphasis on storytelling, and with help from Nashville folk duo The Secret Sisters, Dan Layus shares stories of love and loss and everything in between.
His first single "Driveway," delivered to us in a low register rumble, tells the story of a broken down relationship and the decision to stay or go. "Can't bear to leave, can't stand to stay / so I'm just sitting here / parked in the driveway";
this line ties the song into a bow and states a complex feeling into easy to digest image. He does this time and again throughout the album, with songs like "Call Me When You Get There," which delivers a message that every nervous parent or partner has found themselves saying at least once.
On a Spotify playlist, he cites artists like Glen Campbell, George Jones, and Tammy Wynette for inspiring the songs on the album and it shows. What Dan Layus has done is give us some hope for more smart and thoughtful songwriting in an age of "Work, work, work, work..." We'll be releasing a session with him later this week, so make sure to keep a look out for it.