Forgotten series: Dan Dyer – Of What Lies Beneath (2004)

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by Mark Saleski

Jeff Buckley if he’d been a little happier? David Gray if he actually wanted to rock a little? This is a tough one.

I’m having a hard time pinning down who exactly Dan Dyer reminds me of. Not the music (I’ll get to that later), but the voice. It’s a high, reedy instrument that tends to slip into a mild vibrato only at the tail end of phrases. Better still, Dyer appears to know what to do with it. He’s able to communicate sadness, love and hopefulness with soul and energy. Maybe it’s because the music doesn’t get in his way …

OK, here’s the whole story. Dyer, a mostly unknown Austin-based singer/songwriter, is discovered by Lenny Kravitz. Kravitz signs him to his new label, “Roxie” (named for his late mom, the TV actress Roxie Roker.) On Of What Lies Beneath, Kravitz plays the role of producer and band, playing most of the instruments (with Dyer and Craig Ross occasionally adding guitars). Now, I’m a pretty big fan of Kravitz when he leans toward the pop side of things. “Let Love Rule” was a great song. Man, I just loved that descending vocal on the chorus. On this record, Lenny’s pop side is on display. Check out the rubbery bassline that drives the verses of “Great Ocean.”

Still, it’s Dan Dyer’s songwriting and vocals that are center stage here. There are fine pop/rock tunes (the opener “Red Alert” and “She Makes Me Believe”) as well as songs that are out of the singer/songwriter thing (“Not Of This World” and “Space Alien” … well, until it boils over anyway.)

Dan Dyer ended up as be one of the most promising musicians I’d seen coming from anywhere near a major label in quite some time.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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