It takes a talented individual to transform pain into something beautiful. For Americana singer-songwriter and North Carolina native Kevin Daniel, that’s just another day at the office.
Though he’s endured his share of heartbreak, Daniel has not let himself grow bitter. Instead, gratitude fuels his life and his music. The singer-songwriter has translated this passion into his latest album, The Life and Adventures of Kevin Daniel, a refreshing blend of gospel, blues, and southern rock.
Daniel’s fairly recent move to Nashville opened up numerous doors in the music world, some of which have lent to his newest album, which was released via Organic Records on May 12th. In tandem with co-producer Jon Weisberger, Daniel assembled a list of seasoned writers and players who would contribute their talents to this 10-song opus.
With a harmonious a capella intro, the album’s opening track, “Happy for a While,” gives the listener a tantalizing taste of what’s to come. Rich in R&B and gospel flare, the song is an instant feel-good favorite.
The fourth track, “Feel Like It Should,” echoes the innately human experience of feeling like you’ve made a mess of things. A wondrous mixture of soul and country, the sorrowful tune depicts a certain self-awareness that laments a pattern: “When everything’s right I make something go wrong/ Admit to myself what I knew all along,” he sings.
Another notable track, “Dragging Me Down,” Daniel’s honesty is once again at the forefront. His line “One step forward means two steps back” captures the push-and-pull of missing someone you once loved and being haunted by memories.
Leaving listeners with a sumptuous instrumental coda and the message: “Wherever you are, just know you belong” is “Singer and the Song.” The track has a tone of finality, giving the album a proper concluding chapter.
“I have a good life and I am grateful for where I am,” says Daniel. “Part of what makes me grateful is the trauma I’ve experienced on the road to where I currently rest… I can’t say I wouldn’t do things differently, but I can say the music I wrote for this album is a collection of experiences from my years as a musician, as an artist, as a lover, as a selfish man, and as a human being seeking and giving forgiveness.”
Until his life in NYC was completely upended when tragedy struck his family in 2013, music had taken a backseat for Daniel. Returning to North Carolina to cope with the unexpected loss of his mother and stepfather, he poured himself into songwriting, eventually giving way to his first EP, FLY. Released in 2018, his second EP, Myself Through You, is just as real and raw, exploring what it’s like to see yourself from an outsider’s perspective. Soon after, Daniel released his first full-length collection, Things I Don’t See, propelling his musical career ever further.
Though insightful about his own life, Daniel’s music has a way of being relevant to the lives of listeners as well. With unapologetically truthful lyrics and multidimensional instrumental accompaniment, each track on The Life and Adventures of Kevin Daniel is thoughtfully layered.