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Artist: Dan Wallace
Label: Torito Bravo Records
Time: 14 tracks/51:14

Dan Wallace has managed to do it again.

Repeating his success but not retracing his musical steps, Wallace gives us Reattachment, the follow-up to last year’s eclectic and mesmerizing Culture of Self album. Self-revelatory without becoming self-indulgent, Reattachment reveals Wallace’s brilliance as a rock composer and instrumentalist as well as his gift for writing and delivering obscure but intriguing lyrics. As has been his pattern, Dan Wallace has once again produced an original album not designed for the mainstream or the musically squeamish.

The opening track, “Reattachment,” is a moody, moderate-tempo track that begins with an exquisite burst of guitar work over a bed of bass, acoustic guitar and drums, followed shortly by the introduction of Wallace’s vocals. The over-all effect is like Jack Bruce channeling David Bowie’s Commander Tom as Wallace sings harmony parts separated by at least an octave, the near-falsetto lead part dominating and lending an air of ‘lost-ness’ to the lyric. An MRI scan of Wallace’s brain is used in the CD cover art (by Vesna Jovanovic), and emphasizes the fact that Wallace is inviting us into his deepest observances, disappointments, confusions and conclusions about life up to this point. 

Like on Culture of Self, Wallace treats us to some instrumental pieces on Reattachment. “South of Heaven” is a delightful waltz featuring Dan on acoustic guitars and multi-tracked vocals, “Brittle Tongues” is a short guitar piece with a slightly oriental flavor, and “Elegy” is an elegant acoustic guitar composition featuring dazzling finger work and a classical/jazz/flamenco approach that results in slightly more than four minutes of guitar-lovers’ heaven. Although Wallace’s background in chamber music is evident even in the rock compositions, it becomes even more noticeable in his solo guitar moments like this one. 

Introduced by a barrage of drums, “Invisible Lines” displays Wallace’s amazing use of melody, time changes and interesting chord progressions, as he effortlessly creates perfect musical sense out of dissonance, melodic leaps and carnival-like tempo changes. Behind all of this is Wallace’s amazing guitar, bass, synth, hand drum and vocal skill. As a singer, Wallace has great range and a vulnerable, unaffected style: able to slip in and out of falsetto parts, and possessing a natural vibrato at the end of a phrase, Wallace’s voice falls somewhere between Brian Wilson and Dan Hicks (speaking of Dan Hicks – “Odd Man Out,” with its Django-esqe guitar licks and frantic pace, sounds tailor-made for Hicks and his Hot Licks!).

“Spellbound,” for its surreal and disturbing lyrics (“…razor in the right hand / drugs in the milk / these surreal amnesia dreams / slinking through guilt labyrinthine …”) is a progressive art-pop tour-de-force, with Wallace at his most appealingly off-beat Beach Boys-meet-Todd Rundgren mode, throwing in a stunning jazz-pop section near the end. It’s ‘out there’ enough to make it a challenging listen, and engaging enough to capture all but the dullest of ears.

_Reattachment_ is full of good moments, such as the Zappa-like guitar solo on “Go Ahead,” and the surprisingly straight-forward love song, “Easy Come Easy Go,” which closes the album on a non-threatening, gentle note. This eclectic project is not without its poignant moments, one of which comes on the haunting “Thanks For the People,” where Wallace asks: “if I am nothing, what does that make you? / if you are nothing, what does that make me? / thank you for tearing me apart here today / You don’t have to, I don’t ask you / you do it anyway…” Still, he ends with the words, “Thank you for hearing.”

Thanks, Dan Wallace, for giving us so much to hear.

By Bert Saraco

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