First of all I have to congratulate the Dan Reed Network on a marvelous comeback to the world with this studio album on Frontiers Records to give back to the people, after seeing them just a week prior to the recording of it. Talk about a legitimate reunion, this certainly is one after 25 long years apart, soaking up their own worlds. As a journalist I always have to watch out for being too biased, and this hits so close to home that I was very cautious in going about it, to result in any critical acclaim concerning it. It’s a standards thing, and they win, because I’m battered and begging for more. They have come back with a fatter, dirtier and yet somehow cleaner sound on this CD, which cannot go without mentioning the addition of producer extraordinaire and keyboard work of Rob Daiker, a genius in his own right. With all due respect to the past. This is a track by track rundown review.
Kicking off with Divided: An opener that is a solid way to start things off, with a fine little intro that is very reminiscent of Bon Jovi. It doesn’t take long and you’re tapping your toes, and it’s all coming back. You know it’s on from the get go. This covers the rock factor to get it all started. A new DRN classic for the masses. It encompasses everything that a comeback should be made of. The Brave: This track goes straight into a signature bass thump from the monster himself, Melvin Brannon Jr. And then it’s on with a fantastic little bubbling chorus from Dan Reed. But also worth noting is how the booming production pops on this, with a good combo of Dan Pred’s drum and spot on keys of Rob Daiker who is also the co-producer. But if you’re aware of his work you can recognize that excellent touch he has. I hear a fine hit written all over this. Love it. Infected: They slow the groove down a bit on this, and it’s an instantly soothing sound. But it’s amazing how they sound in-tact as if they never went away. More classic DRN here with an intermediate funky ballad of sorts. Worth noting is the awesome funk of Brion James as he takes the lead before Reed comes back and delivers another winning vocal. Think Prince here, because he’s a huge influence on this revitalized band. Excellent message conveyed in the lyrics I know Dan cares a lot about the world. Champion: A straight up ballad that deals with the album title/theme. It’s somehow neither funk nor rock, but a sheer piece of genius on the Dan Reed solo vein. And that is just something that isn’t so easy to get away from for anyone, because it’s who he is. Excellent guitar again here as well. Everything just flows so well it’s like butter. I have to say it’s quite an inspirational piece. You get such a warm fuzzy feeling, and you know by this point that it’s a well-crafted and very focused album. Ignition: This is a fine little instrumental number with an almost tribal percussive effect. It’s a great intro to the next track. Give It Love: Right away the drums crack and snap, setting up another fine spiel from Dan Reed to sing about spreading love wherever go, and even expresses how lucky and blessed he is, and in-turn we all do. But also how it can be a sacrifice worth making. It’s never easy and he makes that clear. There is some fine guitar and bass interplay on this as well. Just another killer track at the end of the day. This speaks to me and anyone who’s been exposed enough to DRN. It’s like they have our number. B There With You: Brion James uses some incendiary fills before another pretty serious vocal takes over with some instructional advice to dance, from Dan Reed. This does have some Prince values as well, especially felt when you read the title, before you even hear the track. Buy the CD and see how this soothes your soul, as it comes highly recommended for that medicinal purpose alone. Great stuff! Save The World: This track has Brion James shining through with some massively soulful vocals, which are shared by Dan Reed in an almost seamless fashion. Talk of everything from religion to universal dot connecting gets mentioned in these great lyrics that really express what their message is all about in this era. It’s brilliant how they come together here and share the spotlight so magically.
Eye Of The Storm: This is carried well by Melvin’s signature bass, but it also gives some room for Rob Daiker to be heard on keys. Personally, I like the double tracked vocals, which is a preference thing that many do not. This is like a wild hurricane of emotions, all held together by a grand effort by all involved. Nobody hogs the arrangement, and it’s one big jubilant vibe as the whole excellent piece fades away. Reunite: How much more appropriate can you get than to rewind for a few minutes on the fans when you’ve been apart for 25 years. This is a legitimate regrouping, and even though you can make more out of it than that to apply it across the board of life, I can’t help but decipher it that way. Don’t get me wrong, knowing Dan Reed it could be about anything, as he mentions the emotion of love a lot on this album. There are several instantly established new DRN classics here and this is certainly one of them. It’s just so sweet, yet beefy and gritty. Love the keyboard from Rob Daiker. But it’s also important to mention that there is some guitar synthesizer applied on this album, knowing what I know. Heaven: This comes on strong with a big sound and a mellow pace. It features light and dark shades of Dan Reed and Rob Daiker’s chemistry at its best. Another number not to be missed. It’s a limbo song of sorts, meaning what it might be like on the way to a place referred to as ‘Heaven.” It also doesn’t hold back any lyrical punches in the process. Simply a thing of raw beauty. Sharp Turn: A keyboard intro sets up a syncopated groove on this, which is equally both rock and funk, with a lighter hearted vocal at the same time. It’s a combo that works around another lyrical wonder. It has an illustrious vibe that won’t quit, and there is just no way you can dog on it. Another dose of that medicine they spoon up so well. This features great chemistry from Reed/Daiker once again. It’s fantastically produced, as is the entire release. Stand Tall: Some cool sampling sets this up and they take the proceedings out with a monstrously funky rocker that doesn’t go too fast in the process. It’s a killer way to take it all out with another fine message from Dan Reed. Just like anything else here it will have your toe tapping, without question.
by Larry Toering
In Short Words
Criteria - 10%
In closing I do have to be responsible in describing what a truly well put together album they’ve come up with after all these years. My job is done because they’ve knocked a grand slam out of the park on “Fight Another Day.”