Dan Tyler ~ True Blue
by Joe Hartlaub

Dan Tyler has been a mainstay on the Nashville music scene for many years, writing classic tunes such as “The Light In Your Eyes” by LeAnn Rimes and “Bobbie Sue” by the Oak Ridge Boys, and radio hits for the likes of Kenny Rogers, The Dirt Band, Eddy Arnold, B.J. Thomas, among many others. Tyler’s considerable songwriting talent, however, is not limited to the country genre as that exists today; he has, in fact, a repertoire of compositions that don’t fit particularly well into any specific classification, yet which are different and unique enough to quietly and shoulder their way to the front of a listener’s attention.

TRUE BLUE, Tyler’s second collection of songs, is a versatile grouping of compositions impeccably written and performed by Tyler, with the musical assistance of Brad Jones, Mark Pisapia, and Tony Crow. A word here about the production. Joe Pisapia, a touring member of Guster and a brilliant producer and musician in his own right, provides the perfect complement to Tyler‘s creative muse. He wisely keeps Tyler‘s gently weathered vocals in the front of the mix, lightly supported by spare arrangements which always add to the proceedings. Accordingly, the lightly applied flourishes and additions here --- the short guitar solo on “Whenever I’m Alone With You,” the unobtrusive but integral organ riffs on “O How Marvelous Is Life,” a chamber piece addition to “I Beg The Moon,” --- make each track sound just a bit different. At first deceptively simple, more and more can be heard with each subsequent listening.

The sole track on TRUE BLUE which treads anywhere near the country genre is “The Cowboy Blues,” which evokes the spirit of the late Roy Orbison without sacrificing the unique of Tyler‘s own vision. Similarly, “Whenever I’m Alone With You” has the cocktail jazz feel of Charlie Rich’s later work, as opposed to the countrypolitan tracks he cut in the mid-1970s; at the same time, one can almost hear Tony Bennett doing a note-for-note cover of this composition even as one listens to Tyler understated vocal stylings. “I Give My Star To You” sounds like it could have been written for Gilbert O’Sullivan, and indeed, there is a bit of a jaunty British pub feel to it, due in no small part to Crow‘s inspired, but not overbearing, piano solo. The quietly upbeat, optimistic “O How Marvelous Is Life” is just what it portends to be, a count-your-blessings composition that stands in stark and welcome contrast to the doom-and-gloom bombast which issues forth from terrestrial radio. “I Love My Bed” is similar, from a topical standpoint, paying tribute to life’s simple pleasures. The standout song on TRUE BLUE, however, is “I Beg the Moon,” an angst-laden song of loss and longing that begs for a musical on the order of Les Miserables to be written around it, even as it stands just fine on its own. Jim Hoke’s and Chris Charmichael’s chamber group arrangement on this performance builds nicely and unobtrusively, providing an atmospheric lead-in and support for Tyler’s half-spoken, half-sung, low key delivery that occasionally dips into a whisper.

TRUE BLUE, like its creator, defies characterization or pigeonholing. What can be said is that if you play TRUE BLUE on a Sunday morning ten years from now it will sound just as fresh, and new, and contemporary, as it will the first time you play it. Recommended.