[12 May 2014]
British singer/songwriter Daniel Pearson is someone who doesn’t sound remotely British, at least on his latest EP, Escape Acts. In fact, he sounds remotely Americana-ish, sans British accent, with a dash of Michael Penn and a slight helping of Matthew Sweet’s brand of jangle pop. All told, the Escape Acts EP is actually meant as a holding pattern – a stop gap between albums, meant to tide fans over who bought last year’s Mercury State LP. This extended play features two new songs and two reworked songs from previous outings. The effects are rather middling at best. In fact, the opening two cuts, “Lost My Way” and “Promises Promises” seem rather thin, as they don’t feature pounding drums – just Pearson playing guitar along with shakers or handclaps to guide the listener along. While “Promises Promises” has a bluesy swagger in a kind of Rolling Stones kind of way, the song doesn’t gel as it should – there seems to be a certain je ne se quoi missing from the proceeding that doesn’t quite stick.
It isn’t until you get to the third song on this four track EP, “Satellite Town”, that things get remotely interesting. A soft, lilting acoustic guitar ballad with haunting piano, it’s the first song on this EP that feels remotely fleshed out. It’s a simply beautiful and gorgeous and soaring song that feels wholly memorable. And then final track “I Dug Myself a Hole” continues that trend. Someone else has said that it sounds a little like Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova”, and I could concur, but it’s still a catchy and hummable tune, and marks the first appearance of real drums on this taster. Overall, I’m not sure what the point of Escape Acts is, following fairly closely on the heels of Mercury State. However, you have to give Pearson a little bit of the benefit of the doubt, as his music has been heralded in the UK music press, and you have to give him some credit for honing down any British-isms in his music in favour of something more universal. Still, the Escape Acts EP is probably best suited for longtime fans. It is merely a passable excursion that takes its time to get to music that sears and lingers with the listener.