CD Review of Waiting in Line by Daniel Joseph
Recommended if you like
The Wallflowers, Counting Crows, Gin Blossoms
Label
Wonderlux
Daniel Joseph: Waiting in Line

Reviewed by Jason Thompson

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D
aniel Joseph seems like a guy who should be raking in hit after hit. He makes the kind of innocuous music that generally sells lots of records. Not to take anything away from the guy, but the brand of slow-tempo barn burners he’s created on this album fall right in line with the likes of Jakob Dylan – guys who like to throw a little Hammond organ into their songs to make them sound “rootsy.” Well, Joseph certainly has that quality down pat, so fans of that sort of music will undoubtedly hear a lot of things to enjoy here.

See, Daniel Joseph is one of those guitar-based singer/songwriters who wears his heart on his sleeve and his soul on his hi-fi. From the opening moments of “Control,” you already know where this album is headed: straight down one of those lonely dirt roads in a banged-up old Chevy with its last gallon of gas quickly draining. Hey, might as well stop at that greasy spoon of a diner just up ahead and sing your heart out, right?

That “Welcome to Nowhere” sounds just like the Gin Blossoms is either a good thing or a reason to press the skip button as fast as you can. Exactly what is it with modern artists aping ‘90s “alternative” rock – a style of music that hasn’t ever been all that enjoyable, outside the few moments you hear it in the local 7-11 or catch drifting around on the radio somewhere? Sure, the Gin Blossoms were huge at one point, but here it just sounds like Daniel Joseph is riding a pair of dusty old coattails that have since been replaced by bands fronted by the likes of Jared Leto.

It also wouldn’t hurt if most of the songs here didn’t plod along, making their points well beyond their welcome. “Heroes” is the kind of achingly corny type of sentimental rootsy acoustic hoo-ha that artists such as Joseph love to tackle with as much emotion as possible. “I guess everyone’s wished that they could go back and be somebody else,” moans Daniel. Sure they have. But why be so predictable? But playing it safe like this is perhaps the best thing he has going on here; it sure sounds professional, and is undeniably somewhat tasty to that part of the brain that recognizes overdone MOR tunes.

Perhaps the biggest travesty of all is that this isn’t even really a full album. Not that it really needed to be, but after the first five songs have finished, the first four are repeated as acoustic versions. Why? Why not just call it an EP and be done with it? Was there actually a need to strip the songs down and present them yet again in versions that aren’t that different from their full band takes? It seems like the kind of thing you’d keep around in a vault to release when your CD is reissued 10 years later as a “deluxe edition” after you’ve made it big.

And Daniel Joseph should make it big. Bland as he is, he does have talent, and these tunes will ring true to an audience somewhere. They just have to. Perhaps next time around he could write and record 10 songs instead of five, but perhaps that’s all the soul he could wring out into his music this time around. Either that, or this is just going to be a one-off with nothing to follow it up in two years’ time. By then, Counting Crows should be back on the charts, and everyone will still be getting their fix of this kind of stuff somewhere else.

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