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CD REVIEW: Dan Vaillancourt - Lovely Distractions
By Chip Withrow - 03/16/2009 - 06:45 PM EDT

Artist: Dan Vaillancourt
Album: Lovely Distractions
Website: http://www.danvaillancourt.com
Genre: Alternative Folk/Pop
Sounds Like: Jack Johnson, Ass Ponys
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Newspapers, Amusement Park, Satellites
CD Review: With a flurry of high-spirited picking, Dan Vaillancourt’s “Newspapers” jumps off his new album, Lovely Distractions. I knew this disc was a winner almost from that moment. “Newspapers” is a wonderful confluence of jam-band wackiness and folk/pop, and Ricky Nye’s Hammond B3 organ bounces delightfully throughout. The rest of Lovely Distractions is just as much of a treat.

Next, the title cut rocks hard on the strength of Vaillancourt’s percussive electric guitar. Nye’s B3 and Rebecca Vaillancourt’s backing vocal soar atop the song. Dan’s voice is slightly weathered and conversational, well-suited for the evocative “Fall Winds” and “Breath On Me” that follow. Emily Carson adds wistful violin to those two numbers, and John Seurkamp’s percussion is as bracing as autumn itself.

“Amusement Park” is particularly nifty – image-rich lyrics set to Vaillancourt’s driving, jazz/blues acoustic guitar. “Postcards” is a midtempo, kinda trippy country/blues ballad in the vein of, say, the Stones’ “Torn and Frayed.”

 “I Am Your Radio” paints a delightful picture – goofy lyrics about a goofy traveling companion. And juxtaposition comes with the following track, the dramatic and compelling “Fearless." Vaillancourt saves one of the best for last with “Satellites,” which launches even more skyward with Randy Vaillancourt’s banjo, more of Emily Carlson’s violin, and some fun sing-along “la-la-las.”

This nine-song set is a great listen to get me going in the morning before my students arrive, and to groove to with the windows down on the way home. Dan Vaillancourt's Lovely Distractions boasts crisp production and unique folk-rock twists.




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