Hard Livin’ Easy – Dale Cazenave (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Solid rock ’n’ roll riffs with a country swagger, that’s the short answer to what Dale Cazenave does on this latest release. Thankfully I have plenty of space to lift the hood and take a closer look at what makes this particular sonic engine run.

It is difficult to explain exactly what Dale does without it sounding like he is just going over old ground. That probably says more about my limitations as a writer than it does about him as a musician but when you can revisit the same sonic territory as the likes of Tom Petty, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, The Jayhawks and the like and still make it sound like the first time you heard such music then no justifications are needed. None at all. Not every artist has to break new territory, to explore pastures new or jump generic boundaries, after all what’s wrong with just trying to plant a fresh sonic crop in the existing musical fields, ones that have sustained us for generations. What’s wrong with just being damn good at a fairly familiar job?

And Dale is good at his job, for within easily recognisable sonic boundaries he manages to give us something that is both fresh and familiar, that falls into comfort zones but which is also exciting enough to capture the imagination of not only the rock, country and Americana crowd, but which has the potential to break new audiences too. Wandering both ends of the cult-commercial spectrum is a neat trick if you can do it and boy can he do it!

I guess the difference between getting this so right and just treading creative water is the quality of the songwriting and this is some deft work. Wilfully simple rather than simplistic, honest rather than overtly intricate for the sake of it, this is a song that knows that less is more and also that the audience is smart enough to know integrity when they hear it rather than get caught up in this week’s fleeting fad or transitory fashion. At least the sort of people that he is pitching to do. Familiar territory perhaps but a reminder of why there isn’t much you need to change about a genre when the songs are this damn good.

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