dan tyleri hope (Intuit Music 2003)

Dan Tyler first made the charts in 1978 when Eddie Rabbitt recorded his "Hearts On Fire". He's been a regular ever since with hits like "Modern Day Romance"[Nitty Gritty Dirt Band], "Somebody's Doin Me Right"[Keith Whitley], and "The Light In Your Eyes"[Leann Rimes]. Eddy Arnold, Bobby Blue Bland, the Cox Family, and Kenny Rogers have also recorded his tunes. This time however it's Dan Tyler showcasing Dan Tyler. The CD title, I Hope, is from some lines by Emily Dickinson:

Hope is the thing
with feathers
That perches in the soul
and sings the tune

The surprise is that on his own, Dan Tyler turns out to have the heart of an old folkie. He writes about things that matter, even puts his conscience out there for the record but without the preachy tone. Like the best social commentary it slips in under your radar while you're busy appreciating the art. Steve Goodman immediately comes to mind on the bouncy opening cut "Costa Rica". And from there on out it's a master class in songwriting. The stick-in-your-head lyric and jukebox friendly arrangement of "Even The Bad Times Are Good" is contrasted by "I Am The River" which makes the most of a Celtic musical sensibility and a Native American nature perspective. Then there's the rousing, rocking gospel energy of "Jesus Come Back", the biting, bluesy political rant of "Watch What Their Saying" and the stark, simple intimacy of "Sweetheart". By the time he gets around to his version of. "The Light In Your Eyes" you're struck again at how the best writers know not to smother a song with production values but let it breathe. These are songs with the feel and lift of a different time and different take on things-still concerned but more hopeful than is fashionable today. Everyone who sits down to write with a guitar should go to school on this CD. So if you're flat out a fan of great songwriting and you're taste leans towards Nick Jones, Dan Bern, or Kieran Kane, add Dan Tyler to the mix.

james mcsweeney