Live & Direct with Dan Croll
Dan Croll, the multi-instrumentalist hailing from Liverpool, England, hopped the pond to join Mike Sauter and WYEP members in a Live & Direct Session on April 15, 2014. Croll and his band played four songs from his debut indie-electronic-pop-folk album, Sweet Disarray, which was released May 10, 2014.
The album is infused with energetic synths, catchy harmonies, and an upbeat pop sensibility, but his crisp vocal quality is not lost amidst the animated instruments. His lyrics are simple and insightful—he knows how to capture his listeners by incorporating memorable refrains in songs such as, “From Nowhere” and “Thinkin Aboutchu.”
The first song that Croll and his band played was the first track on the album, “From Nowhere.” Syncopated organ synths jumped right in at the beginning, which gives the song a subtle ‘80s-pop influence. This song, among the other songs that he played in the Live & Direct Session, captures the theme of the album: the journey of finding your way when you are constantly on the move. Although the album wasn’t created with an intentional theme, Sauter points out that Croll repeatedly uses the phrase “my way” in different songs and contexts throughout the album.
Croll plays with a band for live performances, but you won’t find any musician credits in the album’s liner notes—he serves as a one-man band for the album, figuring out new instruments along the way:
“I found the process really fun, just kinda locking myself away in a room and going a bit mad for a few days. And just trying to play instruments as well—there’s quite a lot of instruments that I’m self-taught on and that I don’t really play that well. But I think there’s something to be said for not knowing an instrument that well; when you find something you like on it there’s a sense of achievement—it drives that creativity.”
Croll considers Sweet Disarray to be more like a mix-tape rather than an album because it is a collection of his original songs over the past four years. Making the album (which he innovatively recorded in an abandoned high-school gym) was more of a way for him to see his journey as a songwriter and improve his songwriting; “It’s been a learning curve for me,” he comments on the process of making the album. Luckily, he had the opportunity to meet Paul McCartney who gave him encouraging advice about breaking into the music business while finishing his last year of training at Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts.
The final song Croll played in the Live & Direct Session was the last track on his album entitled, “Home.” This song is mellower and has a folk influence with the addition of delicate harmonies on the refrain and stripped-down instruments. His true talent as a lyricist is especially apparent in his poetically crafted verses such as, “When the cold shakes my bone it’s the rug that warms my soul / it’s the textile to the skin and the sensation alone / feels like home.” The song begins with soft finger picking on a guitar and you can hear his fingers slide up and down the frets; it gains more momentum when the bass and shuffling drums enter. Although Croll will continue to be on the move as his new album gains more success, his memories of home will be preserved in his music.
Lisa Fierstein, WYEP Music & Programming Intern
- From Nowhere
- Thinkin Aboutchu