Dan Croll's Compelling Debut
Something common to all of the English is their uncommonness — and nowhere is this more visible than in the British indie rock scene. Dan Croll is one of the emerging artists from that crowd, gaining popularity from a series of singles featured in his debut album, Sweet Disarray, released in March. https://play.spotify.com/album/2qg3JERQKBjZXvMBtvKR0y
Croll grew up in Staffordshire, England, and at 18 enrolled at the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts — an institution for artists founded by Paul McCartney in 1996. While there, he received the prestigious Songwriter of the Year award from the Musicians Benevolent Fund and received praise from McCartney himself.
Since then, he has gone on to have fairly substantial success in Britain, releasing a hit single, “From Nowhere”, in the fall of 2012. For most of 2013, he was opening for Imagine Dragons during their European tour and writing songs while on the road. His second single, “Compliment Your Soul”, was featured as part of the starting menu of FIFA 14. Compiling his single releases and some newer material, he released his first album, Sweet Disarray, in early 2014.
The album is all over the place instrumentally, but is never messy. He, almost seamlessly, blends a wide variety of styles, bringing in folk, African, and pop traditions that showcase his musical prowess. “From Nowhere”, the opening track, is the powerhouse song of the album, combining a predictable programed beat with a heavy guitar and piano riff and memorable lyricism. The track was so successful that a remix of the song was featured on the soundtrack of GTA V.
It serves as a great introduction to new listeners — the rest of the album follows suit as an amalgam of experimental rock. His following tracks flow between a mellow folk-rock sound — most evident in “Ghost”, “Home”, and “Maway” — and what seems to be Afro-pop, in songs like “Compliment Your Soul”, “Always Like This”,and partially in “From Nowhere”.
Holding all of this together is Croll’s signature sound: warm guitar riffs coupled with slightly reverbed vocals. The album’s eponymous track, “Sweet Disarray”, features a unique blend of Croll’s voice over a single acoustic guitar. The chorus is a well-produced blend of vocals and synthesizers to create a warm, distant tone. Choosing this song to represent the album as a whole was a great choice on his part — it highlights his creative capabilities and will ensure future interest with his forward-thinking experimentalism.
Dan Croll is a talented songwriter and guitarist. Many parts of Sweet Disarray show a slight lack of direction and growing sense of voice, but his combination of modern recording technology with a rich history of British rock has brought forth a great debut album.