‘A soulful, stylish and beautifully restrained musical masterpiece which demonstrates a true understanding of sub-genre influences.’
Intro to Danny G & The Major 7ths
Making the perfect addition to the growing roster of jazz-funk-soul artists featured on Listen to Discover, Ireland based Danny G & The Major 7ths prove just how much the genre is alive in today’s music scene. Fronted by Danny Groenland and featuring a core group of Johnny Taylor (Keys), Dennis Cassidy (Drums), Graham Heaney (Bass) and Paddy Groenland (Guitar), this evolving collective delivers tracks that sound current but classic at the same time. Releasing his debut album ‘Love Joints’ back in 2014 – an album which Danny freely admits was a collection of break up songs – his latest track ‘Time the Healer’ (featuring Fehdah and Zaska), is a stunning reminder that suffering doesn’t last forever and continues to showcase the sense of moving forward we can expect from his forthcoming album ‘The Lookout.’ Read more at Behind the Music: Interview with Danny G
Instantly sounding like an underground soul-funk track from years ago, deep bass, distant drums and heavily wah’d guitar set up a true sense of style. Captivating us, and drawing us in so we are to hear exactly what’s going on, it’s a most welcome break from tracks that put everything out there at the start. It is indeed a sound that engages but, switching to true-tone, an altogether different atmosphere emerges setting up the intent of the track.
Transforming to be beautifully crisp and clean, Danny’s inital lyrics of ‘She said that she would wait for you’ connect a level of reflection that, from the initial sound, may not have been expected. Equally, the perfect way in which his vocal tone balances softness and soul makes it sublimely set. This said, the surroundings are just as much so and bringing a mix of musical delicacy through gently wailing guitar, purpose through beat keeping kit and softness through additional rhythmically set vocal harmonies, it truly sounds like a masterpiece. And, being stylishly restrained, a masterclass in subtlety.
Reaching the chorus, the atmosphere retains what has been but heightens to ooze further soul from all areas. Initially brought through the staggered vocal entries of the word ‘time’ the most wonderful harmonies gradually evolve. Doing so in a way that is completely understated, it cleverly guides us to the title lyrics without expectation. Here there is indeed softness too, almost calming and appropriately healing in nature, but, contrasting it with the deeply resonant setting of ‘he heals all wounds’ the message becomes clear. Instrumentally though, there are just as many delights to be had within the developing accompaniment.
Subtly more dominant than the verse, the emergence of blues-rock-esque guitar lines and the most beautiful, almost ethnic-sounding breathy flute lines combine with the existing cool, strut-inducing elements. Working as one, it demonstrates just how well Danny knows what he wants from his sound. However, serving dual purpose, these also set up the ensuing backing to the second verse where fellow vocalist Fehdah guests. Immediately delivering a softness equal to Danny’s – but in female form – it brings contrast and relatability. This isn’t a moment for soaring, powerful vocal dexterity though. And she knows it.
Don’t get me wrong, Fehdah can definitely do that, but much like Danny, she understands completely when impact is best achieved through restraint. Guiding us wonderfully through the at times free set lyricism, the air of thoughtfulness and reflection gets enhanced as stylishly as the sound itself. Equally, lines such as ‘Hold your head up and be proud you were lost but now you’re found’ and the way in which the phrase ‘you’ve got a friend her name is [time]’ blends into the chorus adds yet more levels of connectivity to the track.
Segueing into the second rendition as beautifully as it does, the sense of familiarity makes you feel settled and like you know what is going to be happening. However, while there are most definitely similarities to the first time round, the musicality in the chorus this time jumps up a few notches. Yes, that is possible. Hinted at earlier, with the vocals focused on Fehdah once more those flute lines truly evolve. Set in the mid-range and featuring interlocking melodic imitations and vibrato embellished phrases, you could honestly loop them for hours and never get tired of them. Equally, with most of the blues-rock-esque elements within the guitar cast aside to become almost wholly wah centred, the transition into Zaska’s solo is complete perfection. As is the solo itself.
For those who know of Zaska – either through previous coverage or through chance discovery – this will come as little surprise. However, if you’ve no idea who he is, let this be your introduction. Having very much sat in the background throughout the track, it’s an improvisation that really does highlight his own musicality. Much like Fehdah, he also knows his musical place in the track. But while restrained and controlled, with intricate picking, perfected pitch-bends and soothing sequenced based strums, it contains much more than this would suggest. Much like so much else in the track, these few moments perform multiple roles and, with the original sound returning this is only proved once more.
Given the sparsity of the texture that has just been – with Zaska literally only accompanied by kit – it would be so easy for the link back to not be achieved. But it is achieved completely. Gently re-introducing the vocals and blues-rock-esque guitar just before the full resurgence, it’s as seamless as can be. However, while to this point each element has had a specific place, this time there is more sense of freedom. Therefore, with both Danny and Fehdah’s vocals become increasingly expressive, the groove taking full hold, the plethora of musical delights expanding and a surprise, yet equally soulful sound concluding the track, you immediately want it to heal you once more.
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Find out more about Danny G and The Major 7ths’ at: Behind the Music: Interview with Danny G and The Major 7ths