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MP3 Dan Kwas - A Life Too Long Forgotten

Lyrically powerful roots rock

13 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Americana, ROCK: Roots Rock

After turning his back on a career in music 25 years ago, singer-songwriter Dan Kwas returns stronger and wiser on his debut album, "A Life Too Long Forgotten," an Americana gem featuring powerful and poignant songs filled with longing, hope and determination.

Kwas fronted The Sidewalks, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based power pop band in the early 1980s, whose independently released single "Natalie" was a high-request tune on local college radio in the summer of 1981. Despite the band’s moderate success, Kwas grew despondent over its failure to attract a larger audience and threw in the towel at the age of 25, leaving Milwaukee and music behind.

It would be nearly 10 years before Kwas picked up a guitar again, and another five before he attempted to write another song. He spent six years in New Jersey, four in Ohio and four more back in New Jersey before returning to Milwaukee in 1997. Along the way, he began a career as a newspaper editor, fell in love, got married and became a father. Over time and much soul searching, Kwas realized that music was an integral part of his being that couldn’t be ignored. He dusted off his guitar and slowly started writing songs again.

But it wasn’t until 2005, after the death of his father, that Kwas decided the songs he had been carrying around in his head deserved to be recorded for posterity’s sake. He bought a used digital recorder and a single microphone and began laying down the tracks that would eventually become "A Life Too Long Forgotten."

The 13 tracks on "A Life Too Long Forgotten" reflect the thoughts and emotions of a man who refuses to let a lifetime of living get the best of him. Many of the songs deal with the quandaries of middle age, like the rollicking, self-reflective "Just Passing Through," in which Kwas questions the meaning of his existence through the metaphor of a road trip, and "Señorita Holy One," about a chance encounter that cures one man’s physical, emotional and spiritual emptiness. Romance, old and new, is a major component of the album as well, as in the roots-rocker "Winds of Change," in which Kwas fights the wanderlust pulling him away from a relationship, and the poignant "Me And You Again," in which he longs for the youthful romance he shared with his wife before the responsibilities of careers and parenthood got in the way. Kwas is not afraid to get political either, as is evidenced in the hard-driving "American Dream Come True," about a family-man’s anger at losing his job to downsizing, and "Dignified Man," a jab at George W. Bush in which the president is chastised for what he isn’t rather than for what he is.

Kwas, who cites Bob Dylan and John Fogerty as early influences and Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell as latter-day ones, wrote all 13 songs on the album and performs each part himself, playing and singing with a youthful vigor that belies his age. "A Life Too Long Forgotten" is a reminder that, like a fine wine, some singer-songwriters just get better over time.

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