After spending seven years on the road touring with the Nashville based band The War, singer and songwriter Daniel Levi Goans returned to his native North Carolina to begin writing and recording his first effort under his own name. A few years and albums later, the talented musician has been working hard on developing his craft, which is showcased on his latest release BrotherStranger. Using his surroundings as influence for this music and lyric writing, Goans “looks into the loneliest moments of (the) human experience” with this record, with an eye on “weav(ing) them into a place of tenderness and safety.” These 13 tracks, which were recorded over the course of one year in an old library on Chesapeake Bay, are a strong representation of the high level of musicianship and songwriting that Goans has achieved during his time as both a sideman and solo artist.
Goans’ music contains an atmospheric element that is both laid back and intense at the same time. On songs such as “Arcana Echoes,” Goans uses vocals and multiple instruments weaving in and out of the listener’s focus to develop a sense that the melody and harmony are at once firm and yet moving around the peripheral. An instrumental song, this track brings to light Goans’ ability to move beyond lyrical content to develop a connection with his audience. While he could have used lyrics on each track as a means of connecting to his audience, by mixing in instrumental moments such as this, the songwriter is leading listeners down an unexpected yet enjoyable musical avenue. Keeping them guessing as to what is coming next and preventing the album from becoming predictable.
As a guitarist, Goans sticks fairly close to the American folk genre of playing. On songs such as the title track “Brother Stranger,” Goans plays a simple, yet effective, bass-chord strum pattern that floats behind the main melody and vocal harmonies in a way that highlights the harmony without taking away focus from the lyrical content of the tune. On songs like “Enemies,” the guitarist takes more of an arpeggiated approach as he fingerpicks his way through the chord progression. Even here, there is a strong sense of a melody line being brought out by Goans’ picking hand. Though he uses an acoustic guitar throughout the album, his use of multiple right hand techniques such as fingerpicking, strumming and mixing the two together, Goans keeps things interesting while not straying too far from the folk genre that he is influenced by and uses as the backdrop to his songwriting.
Overall, BrotherStranger is a strong effort from Goans. Showcasing his abilities as a songwriter, performer and arranger, the album is a great introduction to this talented musician for those listeners that have yet to discover his artistic catalogue.