COME INTO MY STUDIO
ALBUM: COME INTO MY STUDIO
BAND: DANA COUNTRYMAN
reviewed by NADJA DEE
COME INTO MY STUDIO
Friends/Romans Music, BMI, / Tenacity Music, ASCAP
Musicians: Dana Countryman
Chris “Mongo” Jones (Trumpet)
Kai Danzberg (Drums)
Kirkcaldy McKenzie (Electric Guitar)
Special guests: Dee Long
Frank M. Young
Joel R. Cooper
Produced and arranged: Dana Countryman
Dana Countryman does it again with his 6th album COME INTO MY STUDIO, so if there's anything to say about him, it's that he’s very consistent. While most new products love to appeal to the younger generation by touting, “This is not your father's Oldsmobile,” in regards to a Dana Countryman album, you can safely say,“Actually this album IS EXACTLY your father’s music,” at least they would probably like it if they heard it.
That’s not saying that Dana’s music is old music, or that it’s boring. It’s retro sounding but it also sounds new and fun. Sure, his songs fit in the past but he taps into a nostalgia that feels refreshing. Like that old Oldsmobile, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
The first song, "Come Into My Studio" is equal parts Sesame Street, Partridge Family and Mister Rogers Neighborhood where you can imagine Dana driving in a little car around the back lot. Plus it tells you, right in the song, what the parts of a song are “The Bridge it sort of changes to a totally different key, then it moves around and ends up back where it was, well you’ll see.” Then, if that’s not enough to grab you, he humbly adds “It’s kind of a mess, I know.” It’s like those little bits where Davy Jones used to say cute little blurbs like “I know, I know, it’s cause I’m short, I know.” How can you not love the guy after that level of cuteness?
Dana Countryman is like experiencing music in a time machine, he’s part Encino Man, trapped in a block of ice from a more innocent time and he’s part the kind of guy your parent’s would NEVER warn you about, the nice guy who was every parent’s dream. Like a game show host with the ability to write smooth, catchy music you’d swear was recorded between the 1950s and 1960s.
Track #1: Come Into My Studio
After being welcomed into his studio, Dana asks you to Take A Little Chance on him, a fun Bubblegum/Power Pop song that could've been given to The Archies or The Cowsills. I've always loved how the Bubblegum genre is like Power Pop's little sibling. It's like sweet music that hasn't hit puberty yet.
Track #2: Take A Little Chance
As a huge Jon Brion fan, I love when musicians put in those little touches that make you know there’s layers to this music, you won’t hear it all in just one pass. Take the little tape rewind at the end of “Come Into My Studio,” the vinyl album sound effect in “Same Old Dream,” or the lovely harp strum at the beginning of “Where Can MY Baby Be?”
Track #3: Where Can MY Baby Be?
Dana Countryman’s last release, 2018’s Cabaret Of Love, delivered the same quality music we’ve come to expect from Mr. Countryman, but where Cabaret had a more loungey feel, this one’s a little more poppy, or at least feels more like a variety show than a cabaret, each one’s entertaining. I couldn’t escape feeling like I was listening to a lost Barry Manilow song, like on “Willow Time,” or listening to the soundtrack from a variety show from the 60s & 70s. His music makes me feel like I’m watching The Captain and Tennille TV show or The Smother’s Brothers.
Comparing Come Into My Studio to a variety isn’t far off the mark, as he has an impressive line-up of musical guests: Dee Long (Klaatu), Probyn Gregory (Beach Boys, Wondermints), Scott Bennett (The Dotted Line), Scott McPherson (Tiny Volcano, McPherson/Grant), Ronnie D’Addario (Rock Club), Brian Gari and Kai Danzberg.
The most Power Pop song in my opinion, is "Better Let Her Go." In the press release, his musical style was described as The Beach Boys hanging with Elton, accompanied by a rare band called Airwaves, while having The Beatles appear here and there. Well, the Fab Four show up in "Better Let Her Go."
Come Into My Studio would make the perfect soundtrack to a fun rom-com from the 70s, one of those kind-of-silly, but entertaining Blake Edwards movies, or a Herbert Ross rom-com. It’s the perfect antidote to a hectic work day and you need to unwind. Take the song, "Every Time You Break My Heart Again," which sounds like it could've been the theme song to an old show like Love, American Style.
I was thrilled to see that there was another Christmas themed song on the album, not because I love traditional Christmas music, but because his album felt like a "feel good" album from the 60s, it had that warm, welcoming vibe like a Christmas Album. Just like Cabaret Of Love’s “Gonna Be Home For Christmas,” Come Into My Studio boasts a bonus song duet with Matt Tyson on the wonderful “It’s Christmas Time.” Maybe next time, Dana needs to release an entire album of Christmas originals.
Track #16 Gonna Be Home For Christmas
Track #16 It's Christmas Time
The last few songs, "Power Popcast Theme" & "Welcomed Here," sound like Fivver projects created by Dana for other shows. The theme for a German Power Popcast is an amazing theme song and with chops like that, if Hop On Power Pop didn’t already have the wonderful theme song by Stevie Riks’ "It’s Time To Hop On Power Pop," we’d probably be hiring Mr. Countryman to create us a new one. Anyone in need of a theme song? Hit up Dana Countryman, he obviously delivers the goods.
Track #17: Power Popcast Theme
Track #18: Welcomed Here
This 18 track release shows that Dana’s not short on material, but it flies by and it’ll feel like you visited an old friend. Taking you not only through many genres from singer-songwriter era 1970s, but through the 1960s heyday and even glimpsing into the Ozzy & Harriet wholesome 1950s. It's like getting in that time traveling Delorean and randomly pressing buttons to take yourself back to the past. If you love music from a different time, when American wasn't hiding behind masks from a pandemic. A time when sadly civil rights, race wars and the work of suffragettes were still in the dark ages, but it felt like more innocent, wholesome days, then pick up this album. It's fun, well written, well performed american adult contemporary music that is certain to offend no one. I wish that people like Mister Fred Rogers were still here, I wish that we could simply tap into our imagination and everyone would get along and things would get better and this album gives us all a little hope for a brighter future. So, step into Dana's studio, what do you have to lose?
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Spinning Vinyl video courtesy of Beachfront @ Videvo
DISCLAIMER: HOP ON POWER POP doesn't give stars, a grade or any sort of quantifiable rating. What HOP ON POWER POP does is let you know what H.O.P.P. thought of the music by the band at this particular time. If an album isn't to our liking or fitting into the Power Pop genre enough, we simply won't review it.
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