The jarring opening to the latest album from Daniel Knox – "I wanna be right where I’m supposed to be; I wanna kill everyone close to me..." – sets the record up to be lyrically fascinating. A title taken from The Wizard Of Oz, ‘Won’t You Take Me With You’ is the fifth studio album from the American singer-songwriter.
The bouncy piano in ‘King Of The Ball’ with jazzy wind instruments complementing it elicits images of New Orleans at night. The walking bassline makes it feel like you could be walking through those streets seeing everything Knox does. This atmosphere is carried on into ‘Vinegar Hill’, which is a particular highlight of the album and draws obvious comparisons to Leonard Cohen, but also the solo work of Cameron Avery of Tame Impala.
Knox only waits for the third track to change the tone of the album to a softer ballad in ‘Fall Apart’, similarly to how Father John Misty transitioned into ‘Just Dumb Enough to Try’ on ‘God’s Favourite Customer’.
His lyrical style is most striking in ‘Girl From Carbondale’. His compelling way with words demands attention from the first words sang in this song. Knox is paying tribute to his mother, as he ponders about the life he has only seen in pictures - I used to wonder about her neighbourhood, what her room looked like, if things back then were stained the colour they are in the photographs I’d seen.
The soft and meaningful piano has the emotive hooks that make the record so captivating. The latter half of the record is particularly reflective, and his piano playing is what really brings this sombre mood to the foreground.
His last album ‘Chasescene’ was received well by critics, but Knox took a different approach in the way he wrote this batch of new tracks.
“Nearly all of the songs were written just four weeks prior to the recording session which is a process that is very new to me,” he says, “I’m a firm believer in not rushing things, and plotting a course that follows a vision. But nothing here felt rushed. I doubted myself less, and improvised solutions where I might have overthought them given the time. I applied this to writing and turned the volume down on the doubts that usually accompany that process.”
Daniel Knox is a storyteller who paints a picture with his colloquial descriptions and his deep, husky voice adds an authoritative presence in ‘Won’t You Take Me With You’.
Words: Adam Laver
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