The World Got Crazy – Danny Merriman (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Lockdown has had, and continues to have, a marked effect on all of us. Some have used this time to count their blessings, others to pull together, many have welcomed this forced hibernation and others have even raged and ranted against their perceived loss of liberty. All of this is equally true of the artistic community, particularly the musical sector who, finding themselves cut off from their usual workplace, the stage, have used that time to put their feelings and thoughts into song. If there are silver linings to be found in the recent pandemic, one of them is undoubtedly the sonic tsunami of recorded music and album releases which has gushed forth from that quarter.

And Danny Merriman is no exception. Danny has never been what you would call a slouch when it comes to such creative processes, already having a string of reggae and funk infused, bass driven and musically infectious albums to his name. The World Got Crazy is the latest and it runs on a glorious upbeat blend of groovesome reggae and ska vibes, as well as any number of other less obvious and unexpected sounds.

The title track and opening salvo is that precision blend of island vibes and social commentary, the classic coupling that reggae music was always the perfect vehicle for but it is songs such as You Can Say That Again which will probably hit deeper home with most home-grown audiences, the same weaves of ska addictiveness, street level lyrics and new wave energy which fuelled the post-punk, two-tone explosion all those years ago.

Outer Space highlights Danny’s love of all things sci-fi, making great use of the futuristic electronica and deep space sonics which wander around the periphery and through the gaps in his music sounding like something from the playlist of the first Rastafarians to colonise Mars, or the confessions of a Venusian delegation who got the co-ordinates wrong and landed in Trenchtown.

But it is an album which is also happy to colour outside the lines, gently pushing the boundaries and wandering off the beaten track, Moby Dick being a dreamscape reggae instrumental, edged with chiming and charming piano and those strange slices of electronica which seem to cocoon around some bruising depth-charge dub pulses. The album ends with Mishap, Danny’s vocals wandering between world weary New Wave drawls and Terry Hall’s brooding broadcasts.

Not only a cool album but the perfect road sign for the possible places that music in this genre can go next, which sonic pastures new and paths less travelled it could explore. But it is also the diary of the thoughts and reflections, the optimism and worried dreams of someone, like all of us has been caught in the midst of something unprecedented. And then, on top of all of that it does what music has always done so well, it captures the everyday minutiae of life in general, making it both wonderfully philosophical and brilliantly relatable. That’s a lot of ground to cover, but The World Got Crazy does just that, effortlessly.

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