Liverpool-born vocalist and songwriter Dan Byrne is a great example of how much work is involved in being an independent musician in today’s often troublesome music business. Lots of plates need to be kept spinning at the same time to make a difference and keep one’s profile active (as well as putting food on the table and paying those pesky bills), and the quietly-spoken Byrne is proven to be a plate spinner par excellence.
It must have been a difficult decision to split with Revival Black in 2022 especially since the NWOCR favourites had just delivered an album, ‘Under The Light’, that reached the heady heights of #2 in the Rock & Metal Album Charts. But Dan would have had a plan, and after a busy Summer festival season that featured solo appearances, as well as slots with Myke Gray, and Atack, and recording duties with his German-based band Bad Rain, the final piece of that plan is slotting into place with the release of his aptly-named debut solo EP: ‘Beginnings’. The phrase highly anticipated is often overused, but in this case, it is warranted.
The decision to not rush any solo material was a wise one. It would have been easy (and understandable) had Dan released his debut solo music in the immediate aftermath of leaving Revival Black, but instead he embarked on a period of self-discovery and earned his wings with appearances at festivals such as Steelhouse and Stonedead, and to an extent, discovered who he is and what he is capable of. And what he is capable of is delivering a debut which although is short – 4 tracks in total – is quite varied.
A great comparison to make would be with rapidly-rising stars Those Damn Crows because both are as far away from meat and two veg guitar-driven blues-rock as possible and instead, offer up quite a modern sound that could easily cross the Atlantic. ‘Beginnings’ closing track ‘Hard to Breathe’ is perfect for the lucrative US outdoor festival scene, and it’s easy to imagine Brent Smith of Shinedown watching Dan from side-stage and seeing enough to take him out on the road on one of the many multi-act bills that Shinedown are famed for. And the US would love Dan. He has a voice made up of equal parts grit, soul, and that vulnerability quality that is so appealing today. Plus, ‘Hard to Breathe’ has a stomping feel to it that is simply massive.
The piano-led ‘Death of Me’ is a fantastic way to introduce Dan Byrne – Solo Artist to the unsuspecting nation of Rock lovers, and it is rather special. A few changes in pace and direction here and there, lots of peaks and troughs, with a nice touch of distortion to Dan’s vocals mid-song and a crunch to the guitars, it is the perfect opener and just when you think that he might overreach and go for a few extra notes when they are not needed, Dan shows restraint and reins in that incredible voice. ‘Like Animals’ packs a lot into its 4 minutes and the production shines through on this one. A bit of swagger courtesy of the guitars, and a neat keyboard/synth sound threading through the song help give it an edge, as do the periods of relative calm that help set up the explosions of sound that follow. Such a killer groove to this one, and the vocals are, again, powerful and precise. ‘Easier’ is, in essence, a power ballad where the top-billing goes to Dan’s vocals. The piano/synth features quite heavily throughout ‘Beginnings’ and on ‘Easier’ it is crucial to the make-up of the song. Wonderful arrangements in places, it is one of those moments that makes the listener sit up and pay attention.
No doubt that Dan Byrne has a full-length album already planned out in his head, but until then, ‘Beginnings’ is an ideal stop-gap, and a flawless introduction to one of the best young vocalists on the UK circuit today.
Purchase ‘Beginnings’ here.
Review – Dave
Photo credit – Blackham Images