Daniel G. Harmann
The Lake Effect
The title and corresponding cover art of Daniel G. Harmann’s latest album lend themselves to being the 2004 atmospheric equivalent of Sufjan Stevens’s Greetings From Michigan…. The album fulfills this expectation to a certain degree; Harmann has the plaintive, yearning singer/songwriter vibes down pat. But his aquatic odes are more amorphous and less geographically rooted than Stevens’ catalogue. Instead, by opting for a more effects-heavy celestial body of work, he comes off like a less clubby Beth Orton. This is to say his sound is predominantly grounded in acoustic guitars, but is also well versed in the depth a couple well-placed keyboards can add.
Harmann admits to being influenced by the more “punk rock side of the scene,” and it shows. Mid-tempo dour rock like the Coldplay-as-hardcore “Cold, A Whole Minute” and “One Last Thing” and the Replacements-esque jagged swipe “Bloodletting” fit in among the bleary slow-core like moments of fog lifted clarity.
At times, Harmann’s breathy, quavering voice sounds a little too fey (“Like Light”) and the pronunciation a little too garbled (“Location is Everything”) for it to be pushed so high in the mix. Most of the time however, as on the quietly chirping closing track, “Sometimes I Forget My Name,” he couldn’t sound more perfect. Slight vocal kinks aside, The Lake Effect is definitely a worthwhile addition to the indie folk canon, though it would be safe to assume that Harmann’s best work is still yet to come.
Post 436: www.post436records.com