MP3 Danny McGuinness - What it is
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11 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Progressive Rock, POP: Power Pop
Vocalist, songwriter and musician Danny McGuinness is a mesmerizing live performer with a commanding stage presence that's irresistible, whether he's fronting a full-on power rock quartet or alone on stage with only his guitar or piano. McGuinness' consistently passionate, interesting and evolving body of work includes fronting the progressive hard rock band Coven of Thieves in the early nineties, as well as the more mainstream power rock/melodic pop of the band Icos; with the latter he released the band's debut "Incurable Contact" (1997) and the critically-acclaimed "At the Speed of Life" (1998) on Slipdisc/Mercury. ("At the Speed of Life" was recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios. Though the band eventually split up, those recording sessions and the subsequent national tour were definitely career highlights.) McGuinness' songwriting has been praised for its originality, and his versatile, arresting vocals have long garnered comparisons to the likes of Bono, Jim Morrison and Echo and the Bunnymen's Ian McCullough (he may get tired of hearing it, but we all have our little crosses to bear).
When Polygram / Mercury was bought by Seagram's in 1998 (Universal), McGuinness negotiated a release from his record deal to avoid being crunched in the massive merger, bringing about an end to Icos. Entering into a new deal with former Slipdisc executives, McGuinness became co-founder of his Heatshield Records label and released a mainstream pop single, "Summertime", which was licensed to Corona Beer for a national radio ad campaign in 2000 and 2001. McGuinness toured solo throughout the U.S. in support of the single; highlights of the tour included opening for Shawn Mullins and Jimmy Buffet.
As a lyricist McGuinness seems to constantly be balancing his sardonic realism with a gothic romanticism and hope that springs eternal. With his first solo release, what it is, McGuinness has turned his focus to experimenting with production, melody, and a new blend of genres while still paying homage to his ever rocking roots. This release also captures his inherent ability to evoke emotion through the combination of melody, arrangement and vocals. It's obvious that as a veteran rocker McGuinness can still hold his own -- old fans won't be disappointed, as tracks like "even though," and "3 am union square" attest, and fans new and old will likely be delighted with the diversity of tracks like "je t'aime" and "real for me," both of which express a vulnerability that borders on heartbreaking. "Je t'aime" has an amazing arrangement of vocals, bass, strings and keyboards on the chorus; "real for me" has a smooth, soulful groove that's addictive.
Recorded and mixed at studios in Chicago and Los Angeles "what it is" also represents McGuinness' first production effort. The record was co-produced by Gerey Johnson, whose credits include working with Janet Jackson and David Sanborn, among others. The album also features guitarist and co-writer Kent Van Der Kolk and world-class drummer and percussionist Kyle Woodring. Also a veteran of both Icos and Coven, Woodring's credits include backing such luminaries as John Mellencamp, Deanna Carter, & Maestro Daniel Barenboim. Bassist Jeff Burris fills in as both bass player and co-engineer, with Jerry Dornbush (Aretha Franklin, R Kelly) at the helm as senior engineer. Additional engineering / mixes from Chuck Kawal at Studio Chicago and Chris Steinmetz at Glendale Studios, Burbank CA.
McGuinness' next solo effort is a stripped down acoustic album, again featuring Van Der Kolk on lead guitar as counterpoint to Danny's raw acoustic presence. The new album is scheduled for release in the late fall, and McGuinness and Van Der Kolk are gearing up for a national tour in support of both releases.
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