Friday, April 20, 2018

Steve Hill - The One-Man Blues Rock Band

One good thing about reviewing Steve Hill - there’s none of that having to go checking the names of his bandmates.  That album title, The One-Man Blues Rock Band, is the literal truth.  Credit to Hill though, I didn't spend the duration of this live album, recorded in Quebec last autumn, brooding about the truly solo nature of his enterprise.
The album opens with the spiky guitar intro of ‘Rhythm All Over’, leading into a jagged, ringing riff. And the rhythm in question is stomping. When Hill sings “I’m beating on your door”, you very much get the idea.
Steve Hill - full spectrum one-man blues
Pic by Szymon Goralczyk
To begin with this may seem like his default mode, with the grinding beat of ‘Go On’ and the pounding ‘The Collector’.  But the latter meshes single note guitar work with chords and slide in impressive fashion, while Hill delivers an original lyric with a rumbling vocal.  And once you get past the lurching, bluesy riff of ‘Damned’, Hill displays more variety.
‘Tough Luck’ ripples with steely, acoustic-sounding guitar played off against measured harp, in a slow and reflective outing featuring very bluesy lyrics.  ‘Never Is Such A Long Time’ meanwhile, is a tense affair, with Hill spitting out twitchy guitar licks over low key drums, before stretching out on a squealing solo on which he somehow manages to work in counterpointing figures.  How he does that is beyond me, but the bottom line is that he manages to conjure up the full sound of a band.
The uptempo classic R’n’B of Little Walter’s ‘Hate To See You Go’ – also recorded by the Stones - maybe demonstrates that it’s not so easy for Hill to do drums that swing like Charlie Watts.  But hell, I ain’t going to damn him for that, and with its ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ groove it still delivers plenty of voltage from the crunching chords and squalling notes of its intro to its eyeballs out solo.
But if he can’t quite pull off swing single-handedly, Hill still manages to get laid back and soulful on the simple, different, and romantic ‘Emily’.  And then he does a handbrake turn into the downbeat, brooding, ‘Nothing New’.  Its lyric, about how “I been thinkin’ ‘bout all the things I’m gonna do to you” has a dark, borderline obsessive vibe akin to The Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’.  And in fact, in the midst of pondering the singularity of Hill’s musicianship, it would be easy to overlook his penchant for good words, whether his own or someone else’s.  But they keep cropping up - even if the Black Keys-ish ‘Still Got It Bad’ has a bit of a plodding air, it manages to tell a tale of marital deceit in withering fashion.
‘The Ballad Of Johnny Wabo’ is a down home blues with a low key opening, that then rouses itself into a slide bonanza over nothing, it seems, but a bit of hi-hat – and appears to have the crowd going nuts.  It’s a good warm-up for the set closer of ‘Dangerous’, an iconically strong track with a grabber of a riff over a great, simple rhythm.
Personally I could do without the encore of ‘Voodoo Chile’, mountainously OTT guitar solo and all. Going toe to toe with Jimi seems like a futile exercise to me, but I’d hazard a guess I’m a minority on that point. What I will say though, is that the mastering of the album could have been better.  The whole damn thing should simply be louder – I had to whack it up to 11 to get an acceptable degree of punch – and on a few occasions crowd applause is clipped off so abruptly that it undermines the live experience.  And on another tack, I’d have liked Hill to take a real time-out to deliver the kind of shimmering acoustic playing he demonstrated on the likes of ‘Troubled Times’, from his last studio album.
Steve Hill may be The One-Man Blues Rock Band, but he’s not a one-trick pony.  He may not be a game-changer, and his approach may wrap him in some artificial limitations, but there are layers in his material that I think we’ve still to fully grasp.  What this outing proves though, and what I already knew from seeing him live, is that Steve Hill is a guitar-toting, cymbal-whacking, drum-booting, ass-kicking joint-rocker.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Kris Barras Band - The Divine And Dirty

Appearances can be deceptive.  I’ve been aware of Kris Barras as a name for a bit, but without ever encountering his stuff. So when I see pictures of said gent, in a t-shirt with extensive tats, with hipsterish beard and slicked back hair, and read that he’s a former MMA combatant who’s “unleashing southern-fried blues fury” on his album The Divine And Dirty, I’m expecting to hear an avalanche of very modern, heavy duty, greasy boogie.  Which it isn’t.  It is, however, really good.
Sure, there’s some bluesy stuff in The Divine And Dirty, and some kinda southern rock riffs based on licks not power chords.  But with Barras’s airy voice to the fore, it heads in a direction that reminds me of the Paul Nelson Band’s Badass Generation, an album that used blues and southern rock influences as a launchpad to get into 80s style AOR.  And the end result is something breezily refreshing.
Kris Barras - Let's get ready to rumble!
Okay, so when you really get down to it a couple of songs like ‘Hail Mary’ and ‘Stitch Me Up’ might be a bit slight.  But catchy hooks abound, the production from keyboard player Josiah J. Manning is strong and clear, and when it comes to vocals you can forget Ronnie Van Zant. Think Jon Bon Jovi – and believe that it works.
All this is true right from the outset, with ‘Kick Me Down’ and its swooping slide notes over a rolling riff and swells of organ, soon augmented by tasteful soaring backing vocals. But if you need convincing, check out ‘Propane’, which features a sweeping chorus straight out of the melodic rock playbook that sounds oh-so-like the Christopher Cross hit ‘Ride Like The Wind’ – a song, lest you forget, covered by NWOBHM stalwarts Saxon. ‘Lovers Or Losers’ similarly features a revolving guitar line, with injections of slide, and ends up hinting at Bon Jovi’s ‘Steel Cowboy’.  Penultimate track ‘Blood On Your Hands’ canters along on a choppy, hooky riff, with a melody and vocal that sound like Bryan Adams in his pre-wimpy heyday. It’s good tunesmithery, with a big sound incorporating attractive piano, and great backing vox to boot.
Manning’s piano is a recurring motif.  On the more rootsy ‘Wrong Place, Wrong Time’, a rattling, uptempo melting pot of r’n’b, he throws some jazzy woogie into the boogie, to augment Barras’s spot-on rock’n’roll solo – make that solos, because he chucks in another satisfying outing at the end too.  It’s there again on ‘She’s More Than Enough’, which has a crisp rhythm from Will Beavis on drums, a fast-paced Southern-ish riff – and bags of energy and just-harvested freshness.  Oh yeah, and another pretty damn fine hook.
Initially I could live without ballad ‘Hold On For Tomorrow’, but it as it grows it also grows on me.  With another strong vocal, lush organ and vocal harmonies underpin another tasteful solo from Barras.  The closing ‘Watching Over Me’ is probably stronger, a Bonamassa-style ballad that rises to a big peak before dropping off into delicate closing phrases.
Is The Divine And Dirty something revolutionary? No, it’s not.  But it’s a breath of fresh air that’s delivered with brio, and it plays to its strengths throughout.  Summer must be coming soon, surely, and this will make for a good soundtrack for when you stick on your shades and wind down the window in the car.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Danny Bryant - Revelation

Truth be told, I’ve never been entirely sure about Danny Bryant.  I’ve got a few of his albums, and saw him live a few years ago.  But there were a couple of things made me think . . . aye, well, mmm.  For one thing, I’ve always found his voice a bit grating.  And that live show just felt – predictable.
Fair play to him though, Danny Bryant seems to have been striving for more variety.  I haven’t managed to catch him with his big band, but that at least suggested some new horizons.  The pre-release chat about Revelation has also been about him trying to dig deep and make it something more personal in nature, in the face of some troubled times lately.  And you know what?  I do believe this album shows progress – with a few reservations.
But let’s accentuate the positive for a bit, eh?  From time to time here Bryant reminds me of
Danny Bryant ponders what to do with this strange device before him
Pic by Rob Blackham
Clapton on a good day.  ‘Isolate’, for example, where an EC-like intro gives way to delicate piano, 
and then his guitar plays around the melody on the chorus. Brief guitar fills follow as the song progresses, biting but elegant.  And still not satisfied, he comes up with an impressive solo with bags of feel, followed by a downbeat interlude featuring piano, and then another guitar solo – good enough not to feel like overkill, and buoyed by some tasty bass lines from Alex Phillips.
A buzzing keyboard riff hinting at Chariots Of Timegives a twist to the opening of ‘Shouting At The Moon’, and Bryant has an adventurous go at a falsetto vocal on the chorus as he pursues a daringly personal - and resonant - lyric about the death of his father, before another Clapton-esque moment as a patient, expressive guitar solo rounds off the song.
‘May I Have Talk With You’ is a not-the-bleeding-obvious Howlin’ Wolf cover given a BB King treatment, including horns.  And once again it’s a fine illustration of Bryant’s blues playing, fluid and then wrenching out notes in a fiery closing solo.  Bryant also produces a decent, sensitive vocal – at times at least.  If only his producer Richard Hammerton, who does a damn good job otherwise (including a lot of important keyboard playing), could get him to eliminate some of the growls and hiccupy yelps, the song itself could do the talking.
Which would be good, because his voice can still irritate me, right from the opening title track, on which a melancholy piano intro is swiftly followed by a typically herniated Bryant vocal, before it settles down into his default Trout-ish style.
Bryant says that ‘Liars Testament’ is influenced by Seventies Purple stylings, and yes, there’s something of DP MKII’s rawer moments like ‘Into The Fire’ about it. It’s an instructive comparison, because I can hear a resemblance to Ian Gillan in DB’s gruff, semi-strangulated singing.  But Gillan, in his heyday at least, had way more polish and range at
his disposal.  Danny may not be able to emulate that, but he really does need to find a couple more gears.  Still and all, it’s not bad, and I like the controlled ferocity of Bryant’s playing, underpinned by bursts of horns, on the hard-driving coda.
‘Sister Decline’ is powerful all round, with a sturdy, driving riff over a hard-kicking beat from Dave Raeburn, and loose, clever bass runs, and injections of horns and keys to add to the palette.
‘Truth Or Dare’ is fun too, a slab of good ol’ fashioned boogie with rocking horns and a signature Hammond solo from Stevie Watts.  There’s a key change.  And a quiet guitar/vocal call and response passage for dynamics.  And a big crescendo with lively guitar.  All it needs is a bit of cowbell and a false ending to pull off every trick in the book.  But at four and half minutes it’s kept on a leash – which is almost surprising, because Bryant does have a tendency to overdo it.  A few songs here could benefit from some editing, not least the repetitive acoustic rendition of John Mellencamp’s ‘Someday The Rains Will Fall’, and the rather humdrum closing power ballad ‘Yours For A Song’, which is only elevated by a nifty up tempo coda.
When Danny Bryant captures that Clapton-like feel on Revelation, he lives up to the hefty billing he has on the British and European blues rock scene.  But I’m not going to fawn over him and say it’s brilliant.  Danny Bryant deserves better than that.  He’s not the finished article, but he’s trying – and I think he’s getting there.

Revelation is released by Jazzhaus Records on 20 April.
Danny Bryant is on tour in Germany in April, and in Britain from 7 May.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Vitor Bacalhau - Cosmic Attraction

Portuguese power trio isn’t a phrase you read every day.  But guitarist and singer - and, I believe, 2018 European Blues Challenge entrant - Vitor Bacalhau demonstrates that it isn’t just a punchline with his second album, Cosmic Attraction.  Aiming to deliver energetic blues rock, he and his compadres Joao Ventura on drums and Luis Trinidade may not offer
anything groundbreaking, but they do rock’n’roll with a rough and ready charm.  Opener 'Happy Man' is a brisk affair with only a pause for breath, with Bacalhau whacking out some
That's Vitor Bacalhau in there, apparently
jittery, gritty slide guitar, and extra layers of stinging guitar licks, over pounding drums from Ventura.
  'Who Do You Think You’re Fooling' keeps up the momentum, with swatches of fuzzed up guitar and a squelching solo. 'Old Soul', with producer Budda Guedes guesting on guitar and vocals, downshifts into a mid-paced strut, but its robust riff is also the first of a few nods in a vaguely Black Keys direction, which is just fine by me.  They really hit that nail on the head with 'Dirty Little Girl', one of the highlights of the album with its fuzzed up guitars and catchy, Keys-like chorus, while 'Walk Through Fire' hints at Auerbach and Carney’s more jagged moments.  It’s itchy, scratchy, and urgent, with a rasping vocal from Bacalhau, and squealing guitar licks penetrating the storm.  The hidden closing track 'Only The Strong Live Long' is a good fit alongside this stuff, a distorted acoustic stomp that’s appealingly rootsy.  Okay, so along the way 'I’ve Been Dreaming' is a so-so slower blues, and the title track is just typical power trio fare, although punctuated by some intriguing channel-switching guitar chords.  But 'Let Your Soul Go Free' clatters along merrily like Mk 2 Purple in one of their more ramshackle moments.  And the reflective 'Shooting Star' may not be very original, but it’s still evocative with its twinkling opening and sweeping slide notes, before closing with a squall of feedback-laced guitar. Cosmic Attraction may be a bit insubstantial at times, but it’s a likeable effort nonetheless.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Ian Siegal - All The Rage

It’s been a while since Ian Siegal released a studio album recorded with a band.  You have to go all the way back to 2012, in fact, and his Mississippi Mudbloods outing Candy Store Kid.  Six years!
You could almost imagine that he’s been biding his time, waiting until he had something worth saying.  And listening to All The Rage, it’s been worth the wait.  Lyrically it’s not a one-trick pony, but several songs still add up to Siegal’s own State of the Union address, and as a talented word wrangler he’s found plenty of material to fuel an ironic, acerbic take on current affairs.  Musically too, fans will recognise an idiosyncratic, quirky slant on roots music that is typical of Siegal – there’s blues to be sure, but there’s more going on here than twelve bars.
Ian Siegal - Uncannily Wolf-like singing for a guy from Brighton
The imagery of opener ‘Eagle-Vulture’ suggests that Siegal has the current red-in-tooth-and-claw nature of the American body politic in his sights, over a twitching paradiddle rhythm from drummer Rafael Schwiddessen, while Dusty Cigaar lays down a classic, subtly twanging guitar line. Siegal himself is in his inimitable rumbling mode vocally, dispersing acidly apocalyptic observations with a deliberation that recalls earlier songs like ‘Curses’ and ‘Stud Spider’.
It's kinda obvious to reckon on Trumpist America being the target for Siegal’s commentary in these songs.  But the slow blues of ‘The Sh*t Hit’ expresses a more general bewilderment at the state of the world, to the accompaniment of keening slide guitar from Siegal and the tinkling of bar-room piano from producer Jimbo Mathus.  And ‘Ain’t You Great?’, with its sweetly withering refrain of ‘Ain’t it great again / All this hate again’, is just as applicable to the so-called ‘populist’ politics of Europe, as it moseys patiently along with Cigaar now giving full vent to his Hank Marvin propensities.
Siegal lets his country leanings out to play in the middle of the album, with the aching ‘Won’t Be Your Shotgun Rider’, and with ‘My Flame’, which sounds like an example of Elvis’s ‘sacred’ side  – but with lyrics by Dylan.  On ‘One-Eyed King’ he then turns that sonorous voice in the direction of Johnny Cash in Revelations mode.  But it’s the penultimate track ‘Sweet Souvenir’, co-written with Mathus, that’s the cream of this particular crop.  It’s a late night bar stool lament with a delicious melody, Cigaar on top form, and spot on backing vocals from Merel Moelker.
‘If I Live’ could scarcely be more bluesy if it tried, evoking ‘Smokestack Lightning’ inside and out, while Siegal’s vocal becomes uncannily Wolf-like into the bargain.  The album closes with ‘Sailor Town’, the lowest key, laziest slice of loping funk you could wish for, as if Siegal’s earlier favourite ‘Hard Pressed’ got infected by Willie Dixon’s heat-struck ‘Walkin’ The Blues’.

It says something about the talent at work here that these are ten songs, largely mid-paced and averaging five minutes a pop, where not a second is wasted and the interest levels never flag.  Songwriting, singing, playing and production all come together to deliver an album that’s going to repay repeated listening.  Ian Siegal is a one-off, very much his own man rather than a dedicated follower of fashion. All The Rage is more evidence of his singular quality.  Get this album.  Listen to it lots.  Go see him live this Spring.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Danielle Nicole - Cry No More

Outstanding.  Old fashioned but modern, straightforward, and outstanding.
That just about sums up this second album from bassist and singer – and what a singer - Danielle Nicole.  Her debut Wolf Den was one of my favourites of 2015, and Cry No More maintains that standard with ease.
Nicole (aka Danielle Schnebelen) is in mighty strong company here, working with drummer/producer Tony Braunhagel and guitarist Johnny Lee Schell, both of them past band members with Bonnie Raitt among a host of other credits going way back to Braunhagel’s stint with Paul Kossoff in Back Street Crawler.  Keyboard duties are shared by
Mike Finnigan – another Bonnie Raitt alumnus – and his son Kelly of psychedelic soul outfit
Monophonics, plus Nicole’s fellow Kansas City resident Mike ‘Shinetop, Jr’ Sedovic.  And that’s before we even get to a handful of guest guitarists who do their bit alongside Schell.
Danielle Nicole - bass totin' vocal gymnast

The real star turn though, is Nicole’s voice.  It’s a rich and resonant thing, with unusual strength at the bottom end, but she can also make it leap and soar and twist and turn.  For spells she’s content to stroll along like a gymnast who gets your attention for nothing more than the poise of her walk, before suddenly bursting into a vocal tumbling routine that leaves you agog.
The old fashioned aspect is that Nicole’s oeuvre is soulful blues, with the emphasis on the soul - you could time travel back to Sixties Detroit and Memphis on the back of this material.  Much of it is self-penned by Nicole, sometimes in harness with Braunhagel, with a few covers thrown into the mix that fit like a glove.
Opener ‘Crawl’ sets the tone, with a little melodic phrase that puts me in mind of Eric Clapton and BB King doing ‘Riding With The King’.  It features some warm piano from Sedovic and stinging guitar courtesy of Nicole’s brother Nick Schnebelen.  It also displays that modern aspect I mentioned – a crisp and powerful production from Braunhagel from his booming kick drum upwards, which still leaves room to foreground a great vocal from Nicole.
She can do sultry too, as on the Bill Withers song ‘Hot Spell’ with its laid back funky groovy, and her own rather different ‘Baby Eyes’, which essays a jazzy New Orleans vibe with tinkling piano from Sedovic and restrained injections of guitar from Brandon Miller.
Memphis beckons on ‘Burnin’ For You’ and the title track.  The former has a simple, catchy chorus, with Nicole’s voice progressively taking wing.  The latter has a simple melody, and a real old soul feel coloured by organ from Mike Finnigan and low key guitar from Schell.  Contrastingly there’s a hint of country to ‘Bobby’, with a quietly yearning quality to Nicole’s vocal at first, before she reaches for the skies.
There’s more variety still with the convincing soul ballad ‘My Heart Remains’, while ‘Pusher Man’ is upbeat R’n’B of a kind that would have fitted smoothly into Samantha Fish’s retro covers album Chills & Fever.  And to close there Blind Willie Johnson’s ‘Lord I Just Can’t Keep From Crying’, on which Luther Dickinson contributes slide guitar to add to the mood of updated blues spiritual.
And there’s more besides.  In fact if I have one concern about Cry No More, it’s that at just over an hour it feels a tad overlong – never mind the quality, you start to feel the width.  But it feels a bit mean to complain about having too much of a good thing, doesn’t it?
I said this album was straightforward, and it is.  There’s nothing tricksy or avant-garde shoe-horned into it in an effort to be cool or credible, no force-fitting it into some pre-fabricated modern style.  Danielle Nicole is too good a songwriter and singer to need that sort of crap.  Cry No More has variety, it’s loose-limbed and swings, and it’s delivered with conviction.  Go listen, and find out for yourself. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Geoff Achison - Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, 18 March 2018

Australian guitarist and vocalist Geoff Achison brings some much needed warmth to a chilly Sunday night in Edinburgh, and it’s not just a transfusion of Aussie sunshine.
Achison and the UK version of his Souldiggers are purveyors of a singular brand of laid back, soulful funk.  Stylistically and vocally the richness of Chris Rea springs to mind, and Dire Straits on some levels, and – er, Steely Dan?  Okay, well, we’ll get to that.
 Opening up with ‘Crazy Horse’, what’s immediately apparent is Achison’s inventiveness as
Geoff Achison - "Yay, tell it man!"
a guitarist.
  Fresh and unusual tones are coaxed and teased from his six-string as a matter of course, with the strings picked from all angles to add different accents.  It’s a theme that continues throughout the evening.  He’s ably abetted by the Souldiggers too, with drummer Sam Kelly in particular bringing da swing to proceedings – along with vocal exhortations to his main man of “Yay, tell it man!”
Paul Jobson on keys is an effervescent presence too, but in a different vein offers some nicely liquid piano accompaniment to the mellow ‘My Work Is Done’ (I think), before Achison cranks it up, who then adds some suitably wiry slide to the loose funk of ‘High Wire’ before his band take five as he straps on an acoustic.
On ‘Stoned Again’, by his Dutch-Australian mentor Dutch Tilders, Achison delivers a nifty bit of picking on his solo – and there’s another Knopfler echo.  ‘Delta Dave’ meanwhile, from his latest album Another Mile, Another Minute, ripples and weaves with ease as it pays a tasteful tribute to a famous Melbourne blues busker.
With the band back on stage they get into Muddy Waters’ ‘Sugar Sweet’, turning it into a funky jam.  It’s blues man, but not, I’ll warrant, as Muddy knew it.  And hey, Kelly, bass man Andy Hodges and Jobson on keys cook it up pretty damn good.
They close with ‘Working My Way Back Home’, also from the latest album, which exemplifies Achison’s classy songwriting – oh yeah, and his knack for some Steely Dan jazzy chordings.  Told you I'd get there.
The shuffling ‘Summer Time’ is a good time encore, and what better title to sum up the warm and mellow tones of Geoff Achison and the UK Souldiggers?  Get out and see them, and bask in the rays.

Look up details of Geoff Achison's UK tour dates till mid-April here.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Dan Patlansky - The Cluny, Newcastle, 16 March 2018

Supposedly The Cluny isn’t sold out for this visit by Dan Patlansky.  You could have fooled me.  Arriving a bit later than intended, I find myself perching on a step at the back of the room to get a decent view.  Evidently Dan Patlansky is creating some expectations, and tonight he does an impressive job of meeting them.
Dapper in a double-breasted waistcoat and white shirt, he gets out of the starting blocks with the punchy and rhythmic ‘Johnny’, followed up by ‘Never Long Enough’, both from new album Perfection Kills.  It’s testament to his live performance, and the tightness of the band he’s recruited in Hamburg for this tour, that the latter packs a good deal more oomph than on the album.  Keyboard player Tom Gatza then underlines his contribution with sparkling piano and organ solos on ‘Heartbeat’, from 2016’s Introvertigo album.
"Here we go again!" says Dan Patlansky's Strat
Patlansky underlines his blues roots with a driving version of BB King’s ‘You Upset Me Baby’.  His own approach is decidedly different from the ‘single note’ playing style of BB however.  When he lays back, as on ‘Mayday’, with its gentle, considered guitar work, he can become almost hypnotically fluid in a manner that reminds me of Hendrix in ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ mode.  Later, on ‘Still Wanna Be Your Man’, he comes up with a lovely intro that suggests David Gilmour – another avowed influence – and his subsequent solo, delicately shimmering, is a piece of pin drop precision.  And then when they plunge into ‘Bite Back’, with its tumbling riff, he conjures up echoes of Jimi’s playfulness.
There’s plenty of all action stuff going on around this too, with the funky ‘Stop The Messing’ featuring clavinet from Gatza and a heavy groove from Jonathan Murphy on bass and Felix Dehmel on drums, before they expertly take it down in synch to a cooler segment.  They execute some subtle key changes on the jagged ‘Dog Days’ too, while Patlansky’s solo does a great job of serving the song – not a principle guitar honchos always respect.  Cranking out a Led-heavy riff on ‘Bring The World To Its Knees’ they make the song live up to its title, and Patlansky doubles down by getting well and truly tore in on his solo.
‘My Chana’ is becoming a celebrated set closer, and it’s not for the showcasing of the band on a tricksy funk workout, nor for the jazzy scales he throws into the mix.  This is the moment for Patlansky’s personal brand of guitar hocus pocus, standing his beat up old Strat on end and wrenching sounds of it in weird and wonderful ways, even tinkering with its innards via the back of the body.  It’s the sort of thing that can descend into noodling and noise in the wrong hands, but manages it with control as well as flair, and maintains the focus right to the end.

The whole set, in fact, is a well-designed rollercoaster, with plenty of twists and turns and changes of pace.  And Patlansky, not naturally the most extrovert of characters, engages energetically between songs too.  I might have liked to hear more from his excellent 2014 album Dear Silence Thieves, but I had a damn good night regardless, thank you very much.  Dan Patlansky didn’t just meet my expectations with this show, he exceeded them.