As I have previously said about Americana, one of the most important elements of the genre is storytelling. It’s necessary for a good Americana artist to be lyrically strong as well as well-versed in numerous component styles (such as folk, blues, rock, etcetera) that make up, as you might expect, a characteristically American music genre. A hybrid descendant of such distinctive and richly expressive traditions as Appalachian “mountain music” and negro spirituals alike, Americana is hard to pin down, but is one of the best avenues for modern songwriters to present themselves to the world.
Daniel Jay Paul is certainly taking full advantage of that opportunity. A novelist as well as a singer-songwriter, Paul has long been captivated by the power of words to convey truth. In his most recent album, The Path Less Travelled, lyrics are clearly the focus of his music. He admits that his songwriting actually began as poetry; it was in a poetry workshop that a professor told him that his work read more like song lyrics than poems. In songs like “Time for Me to Go,” his folk influence really shines through in his words. Many of these tracks have a focus on nature, wandering, and personal journeys.
Paul’s instrumentals, though serving mainly as a backdrop to the lyrics in many cases, are actually quite robust and varied. From fairly intense and distorted rock pieces to subdued synth tracks and steady bluegrass-style songs, he runs the gamut of Americana.
Both in his lyrics and in his self-descriptions, Paul certainly comes off as a genuinely committed and serious writer who can make a strong appeal to fans of these classic genres. While I hardly have criticism for his music, which is clearly reflective of the persona he wants to portray, I do want to point to a few things that were off-putting about his online presence. There is a dated look, to say the least, to both his Facebook page and his website (not to mention the slightly disturbing artwork for Clean Getaway). What’s more, let’s have a look at this video: this couple can be seen in just about every single video featuring original cinematography, and they’re mostly seen in the same exact context – being affectionate.
But these minor notes aside, the raw listening experience of Daniel Jay Paul is a thoroughly pleasant one. Judging by his extensive career to this point, it’s likely we can expect a good deal more music from him over the coming years.