Daniel Meade – When Was The Last Time
Button Up Records – 1 May 2018
Glaswegian singer-songwriter Meade isn’t one to let the grass grow under his feet. He released his solo debut in 2010 and ‘When Was The Last Time’ is his seventh. When not in the studio, he seems to be constantly on the road, either on his own headlining dates, supporting the likes of Diana Jones, Sturgill Simpson and Old Crow Medicine Show or as the keyboard and banjo player for Ocean Colour Scene.
He’s also far too modest about his own music. After all, he opens this set with the Byrdsian chiming 12-string guitars and cascading chords of a stupendous five and a half minute track called As Good As It Gets about losing the way and then proceeds to surpass even that. The nine numbers here all started life as letters written to, from and for himself as a means of addressing and coping with the dark moments of anxiety and depression to which he’s prone, transforming into songs infused with positivity and hope.
Save for the drums, which come courtesy of Texas’s Ross McFarlane, Meade plays everything on the album, an experience which, having previously recorded live with a band, seems to have also fuelled the buoyant musical vibe in evidence throughout. There are more ringing guitars, reverberating vocals and driving drums on Nothing Really Matters. The tempo then shifts to a country shuffle for The Day The Clown Stopped Smiling, the Americana colours here also mirrored in the acoustic midtempo piano and banjo-shaded strum of How High We Fly and acoustic waltzing album closer Don’t We All that nods to early Dylan influences (The Times They Are A Changin’ to be specific) and comes with a built-in “don’t we all. don’t we all. don’t we all” chorus singalong.
He dispenses with backing entirely for the folk spiritual feel of So Much For Sorrow with its echoed back vocals as he declares “You Take Tomorrow, I’ll take today”, the track followed directly by another stand out in the form of the tumbling chords and melody line of If The Bombs Don’t Kill Us, McFarlane’s steady drum beat providing a solid bedrock as the song sweeps into its catchily effervescent chorus with another wave of chiming keys and guitars as Meade repeatedly sings “I don’t want no fight no more.. because it hurts.” That crowd-rousing all-join-in euphoria arguably reaches its zenith with the slow swayingly anthemic Oh My My Oh as the organ backing and the ELO-influenced backing vocals take it swelling to the skies.
Which brings us to the glorious title track itself, another nod to the classic sound of The Byrds with its circling jangling guitar riff, double-tracked backing harmonies and what sounds like a 12 string solo flourish but is actually just six on delay and reverb steroids. He really deserves to be far better known than he is, this album makes you want to go up and down the nation’s streets, knocking on doors and playing it to whoever answers.