Often it isn’t until that guy with a guitar you have been watching for a few years goes into the studio to make a more fully realised recording of his music that you really become aware of what those songs actually sounded like in his head when he wrote them. It is easy to label artists such as Heartwork as “acoustica,” “folk- pop” and the like based on their stripped down live performances but it is only when you get to hear the songs in all their glory that you appreciate that those shows are merely a window into their world and it is the album that finally unlocks that door.
And if that view through the window suggested a world built from folky-pop and emo-ish acoustica, well, yes that is certainly there, but there’s more. So much more. If the old analogy of a good song being one that can be stripped down to its basic chords is true, what is even truer is that good songs can be dressed in only the slightest of musical trappings to become something great. And this is great.
With only the deftest of musical enhancements; vocal harmonies and entwined additional guitar lines the balladry at the gentler end of his musical spectrum takes on a pastoral grace and delicate texturing, so much so that the songs leap right off of the digital page. But the real sonic leaps come with bigger treatments of the more obvious songs. The confidant drive and hypnotic intricacies of Butterfly, the resonance and dynamic path taken by Water and the sheer anthemic qualities of I Was Building An Empire.
What Dan, for that is his name, has done here is nothing short of astonishing. Pop fans will pick up on the melody and commercial vibrancy, rock fans will love the widescreen dynamics and clever layering of sounds, folk fans will enjoy the honest acoustica which can still be found beating at the heart of many of the songs. But those who have only encountered him armed only with his trusty acoustic in the back room of a dodgy pub will wonder what the hell happened for him to be able to make such a leap. Astounding. Truly astounding!