North Carolinian minstrel taps in the heart of country to see his reflection in the face of familiar stranger.
While this record’s cover suggests an airy sort of music, the listener will hardly surmise it’s bluegrass that’s in there, and such a surprise shouldn’t deter anyone from digging deep into Kevin Daniel’s sophomore EP. That’s what the singer does to explore his own psyche, drilling into a rich Appalachian vein of despair to feel alive. Yet if jaunty piano and mischievous banjo on the title track conceal the artist’s remorse and regret behind a smile, so alluring on the communal-spirit-instilled chorus, before the piece’s infectious rhythm is left alone with his voice, the bluesy “Born A Preacher” wears sweet pain on its darkly colored sleeve.
Still, “Faded Red” – adorned with brass and given a deferred “break down” line – sounds genuinely optimistic, and there’s a warm waltzing to lead pedal steel and organ of “Golden” to catharsis. So when the honeyed licks of “Hardcore Medicine” dissolve in silence, Daniel’s soul is laid bare for all to marvel at, the mini-album being its ideal presentation. Country has long lost this natural vibe, and Kevin’s work is all the better for preserving it.