DANIEL RODRIGUEZ – Vast Nothing (CD Baby)

Vast NothingDaniel Rodriguez is a Colorado singer-songwriter, who released Vast Nothing, his second solo full-length album, on July 1st in the UK. It’s a thing of gentle beauty – glorious melodies, gentle picking and arrangements that hold back rather than take over.

The album mostly fixes us in the USA “Keep the music playing like a mixtape/Keep the vibe rolling down the freeway” (‘Mixtape’). There’s a sophisticated subtlety to the lyric writing though; the same song, for example, includes the line, “Autumn falls like a recurrent dream” with a neat juxtaposition of the two synonyms for the third season and a nicely mellow image of the cyclical nature of the seasons.

‘Pride and Truth’ is set to a more Americana arrangement and is a dialogue between the two qualities in the title. It’s reminiscent of the style of a platonic dialogue, full of clarity and wordplay such as, “The only people who I’ve come to remember are the ones who taught me to forget”.

‘Wild Horse’, below, is funkier without losing the gentleness of playing and arrangement and a cracking example of how Rodriguez can write a chorus to keep you singing.

On which note, as it were, let me skip to ‘Mossy Stones’. This is at the heart of the album – a glorious singer-songwriter gem about someone of whom “Stories of her are her only trace”. Rodriguez hasn’t named her, but if he had that name would become a twenty-first century Suzanne, incapable of being heard without musical association. Somewhere in your life, you’ve met her – just picture this description:

Love just arrived and she’s here to stay
She crossed the river to the golden gates
She’s standing barefoot talk to mossy stones
You beg for her to take you home 
Drop to your knees
Please bring me home

Later she goes barefoot in fair mountain streams, smells flowers in the garden, picks berries from the overgrowth. All this to a melody that will stay with you long after the track has stopped playing.

The other track I’d highlight, in this case as an example of Rodriguez’ range, is ‘I’m Yours’. It remains in perfect keeping with the rest of the album while also borrowing some of its style from 30’s derived jazz, both in tone and in witty lyricism, “I’m drunk on love and far from sober”. It’s the kind of song that can get under your skin.

Rodriguez is on tour in America currently and comes to the UK for fifteen dates in November. From this album, and his wider back catalogue, both solo and as a founding member of Elephant Revival, I reckon it will be worth getting to see one these gigs.

Let me conclude with Rodriguez’ words, “I wrote the title track on the day [John Prine] passed. [The album is] a record that speaks of the unknown, chaos and tragedy, and transmutes it all into connection and inspiration”.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website:  https://www.drodriguezmusic.com

‘Wild Horse’ – live:

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