West coast singer/songwriter Daniel Wesley is right at home in his chosen genre, reflected so perfectly on his latest CD Ocean Wide.
The disc is slated for release April 9, and it pulsates with all the raw originality Wesley’s loyal legion of fans have come to expect from the gifted Vancouver-based artist.
He performs at the International Beer Haus and Stage (5008 – 48th St.) on April 18.
Wesley, 31, had an early start with music – he launched his first band The Dropouts at the age of 15. Later on, he fronted General Mayhem, Audiophile and Replica.
He describes his family as not so much into playing music as just being enthusiastic fans of the craft.
“Music doesn’t have a huge history in my family other than the fact everyone is a huge music lover,” he explains during a recent chat. “As a teen it came very naturally to me and from there you start getting into other interests – I started playing the ukulele and the trombone for a couple of years, too. You just kind of fall into things.”
Over time, he found his own voice and his own style, and it was in 2006 he opted to hit the road fulltime. Since then he’s released several top-notch CDs and with his latest, Ocean Wide, fans will hear a songwriter who has truly come into his own as a lyricist and creator of melodies.
The single Ocean Wide came about during a trip to South America.
“I really feel that Ocean Wide is a representational song, lyrically, to my fans,” he explains. “I am saying this is what I do and I am really thankful and I am going to keep doing it no matter what, because music is what keeps me alive.”
Opening cut The Bullet immediately draws the listener in with its melodic virtuosity. The bolder Fuel to Fire steps things up with an edgier performance musically and vocally as does the infectious Sun Shine Down.
“I have always played rock music, but this album is a little different style of rock, and it’s one that seems more natural to me. And I think a lot of that had to do with the way it was recorded.”
Wesley also opted to produce much of the product on his own. But he also worked on two songs with Gavin Brown, who produced the Tragically Hip’s most recent disc. Those cuts were recorded during a whirlwind two-day trip to Toronto. The rest of the disc was produced in Vancouver, and ultimately, the album was done in the space of about two weeks. His first few albums were recorded in as little as five to seven days.
But there’s something truly effective about nailing production demands in a comparatively fast way. The discs resonate with authenticity.
“The songs aren’t heavily tracked so there’s not a lot going on,” he explains. “I usually get the meat and potatoes down and then try and bring things in that pick the music up in certain spaces. But I don’t want it to be overdone. I want it to be natural – a band playing music as opposed to some processed thing anyone can do.
“Most of this album I (produced) on my own, and I was really free and honest in the way I recorded it.”
Meanwhile, the title track, Ocean Wide, harkens back to many of Wesley’s earlier CDs with its reggae-tinged vibe. It’s not so much that he was influenced by the music of the Caribbean as he just discovered that by utilizing the jangly upstroke with his pick hand, he created music that he called ‘happy.’ It’s certainly a sentiment he wants to pass on to his audiences.
Operation Help taps into that engaging sensibility as well as does breezy Hold Me.
“It’s just a natural way for me to play when I am playing guitar by myself,” he explains. And people dug it when I wrote songs with that element. It came really natural to me early on in my solo career, and I have incorporated that feel a little bit on every album.”
There couldn’t be a more fitting path for him to follow.
“I’m so lucky I get to do this – it’s such a blast. I still have so much fun – the players that I play with and the people that show up make it all worth it.
“I’m looking at this like a marathon – I want to record 100 albums if I can, and play as many shows as I can. It’s a great lifestyle.”