“This is the first record of mine I enjoy listening to,” admits singer/songwriter Danny Michel in regards to his latest independently-released effort Sunset Sea.
“I think you’d be hard-pressed to find any musician that likes their old albums, though. If you were content with them, you wouldn’t be moving forward. I like parts of them but writing music should be a constant learning curve.”
With some seven predecessors as well as accolades including Juno nominations and boasting Texas rocker Alejandro Escovedo as a dedicated fan, the Kitchener-Waterloo native hasn’t exactly been issuing faltering material over the past decade-plus.
However, when it comes to Sunset Sea—available at shows and via www.dannymichel.com— the affable Michel notes he has finally shed the confines of speculation and worry on a creative level.
Surprisingly, the results on Sunset Sea showcase Michel eschewing his singer/songwriter legacy. A confident album blossoming with upbeat world-meets-Caribbean vivaciousness and virulence, it is inspired by the desire to embrace fresh elements and escape the trappings of his traditional aural spectrum.
Still, Michel admits that he only realized the unrest that taking such a divergent path might cause amongst proponents after the fact.
“I was really nervous about it to be honest. I wasn’t sure if people would appreciate it or point and laugh, whispering ‘Did you hear what he did,’ to each other behind my back.”
Garnering nothing less than abounding critical and fan praise, Michel need not have worried. Sunset Sea is quickly becoming his most revered work, prompting gratitude that pundits have let their “adventurous spirit follow along” with/embrace this foray outside the confines of his well-trodden folk-inspired territory.
To that extent, Michel reveals how the experience of creating Sunset Sea was a self-discovering journey both musically and lyrically. Recording in such diverse locales as Belize, Costa Rica and Holland with guests including longtime colleague Sarah Harmer, it is the direct result of that aforementioned desire to evade stagnancy.
“I’ve gotten pretty sick of rock and singer/songwriter music,” he declares. “I include myself in that...I find it to be sort of the same and whiny. I wanted to write some positive songs that have some greater message than, ‘I’m sad ‘cause this girl doesn’t like me.’ Sunset Sea turns up the lyrics; focuses on what’s really important in life ... somehow.”