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Danny and the Champions of the World - Hearts & Arrows

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 23 / 7 / 2011

Danny and the Champions of the World - Hearts & Arrows
Label: So Recordings
Format: CD


Uplifting and rocky-sounding fourth album from British-based Americana outfit Danny & The Champions Of The World, which ranks as a career best

It feels like Danny Wilson has been around forever. To most of us he’s known for being in one of the few British bands that were capable of slotting into the Americana genre with ease. The albums he made with brother Julian in Grand Drive were met with critical acclaim and rightly so. For his third album under the Danny & The Champions Of The World moniker Wilson has taken somewhat of a harder approach to his music. While the influences that fuelled his previous work are all still there, the sweet harmonies, the Tom Petty/Byrds touches and that dash of Springsteen are all still present and correct, this collection of songs has a more rocky edge than anything Wilson has been previously involved in. In fact, to any newcomers to the music of Danny Wilson, the cover of this album is pretty misleading. A heavily tattooed arm raised behind his head reveals a slicked-back retro looking Wilson, which really indicates that this eleven-track album is something of a rockabilly treat. While some of these new songs have the slightest touch of rockabilly about them for the most part Wilson and company sound like a fired-up Byrds or Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers at their rocking best. The vocals, and Wilson’s honeyed vocals are at odds with that image on the cover, are superb throughout and can’t be faulted. Wilson still has a distinctive vocal style. There are slight references to Petty in there now and again but there’s no mistaking that it’s Wilson taking control here vocally. ‘Hearts & Arrows’ is very much an uplifting album. It rocks, simple as that, but never loses sight of the fact that when it comes to catchy melodies and breathtaking harmonies there are few who can match the talents of Danny Wilson. While he hasn’t moved too far away from the sound we have come to expect from him, even on those early Grand Drive albums, Wilson has adapted this rockier edge into his songs to add yet a further dimension to an already near perfect fusion of Americana/pop/rock. The Jayhawks are another band that come to mind when ‘Hearts & Arrows’ is spinning around but it’s been awhile since any of those bands/artist mentioned have made such a strong album. There really isn’t a dud song on the album, and it’s one of those collections where highlighting a certain song is pointless and pretty near impossible. ‘Brothers in the Night’ with its sha-la-las and saxophone is the most Springsteen-sounding track on the album and even brings back visions of the recently sadly departed Clarence Clemons. The more this album gets played the more those Springsteen comparisons make sense. Even when Wilson slows it right down on songs such as ‘Too Tough To Cry’ the emotion in his singing evokes memories of Springsteen but there’s still this hard edge waiting, lingering in the background waiting to pounce. When it finally does, in the form of a few searing guitar lines, it sends shivers down the spine. There’s been a good few albums released this summer that have impressed more than I expected, and ‘Hearts & Arrows’ is one of them. While it was obvious from his past accomplishments that Danny Wilson was unlikely to make a less than interesting album ‘Hearts & Arrows’ must rate as a career best. It’s the soundtrack to the summer round these parts.

Track Listing:-
1 Ghosts In The Wire
2 Heart And Arrow
3 Soul In The City
4 Colonel And The King
5 Brothers In The Night
6 Too Tough To Cry
7 Every Beat In My Heart
8 Can't Hold Back
9 On The Street
10 You Don't Know (My Heart Is In The Right Place)
11 Walk With Me

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