My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Dan Seals – ‘San Antone’

Dan’s second country album, released in 1984, saw him move to Liberty, but keep Kyle Lehning as his producer. The material largely comprises gentle, melodic, ballads perfect for his warm vocals. It is perhaps a little one paced, with not a lot of variation in tempo.

There were three top 10 singles, starting with ‘(You Bring Out) The Wild Side Of Me’, one of Dan’s own songs. A charming love song with a pretty tune and steel and fiddle making it one of the more traditional country songs on the album, the only flaw is that Dan’s naturally warm, gentle vocal could do with a bit more aggression to make it a bit less cosy. He’s entirely convincing as the “gentleman” of the first verse, but the passion doesn’t quite convince.

‘My Baby’s Got Good Timing’, the biggest hit, peaked at #2, but while it is a pleasant enough romantic pop-country song which Dan wrote with Bob McDill, the poppy production is now rather dated and it is understandably not well remembered today. Much better is the Thom Schuyler’s affectionate tribute to a beaten up old vehicle, ‘My Old Yellow Car’, which surprisingly only made it to #9. This is one of the best songs ever written about a car; of course that’s partly because it’s not really (or only partially) about the car itself. The car (“a dream that was made of American steel”) just symbolizes lost youth; it is all about nostalgia for what has been lost with time, and Dan was the perfect singer for it:

Somewhere in a pile of rubber and steel
There’s a rusty old shell of an automobile
And if engines could run on desires alone
That old yellow car would be driving me home

Take a look at me now throwing money around
I’m paying somebody to drive me downtown
Got a Mercedes Benz with a TV and bar
And God, I wish I was driving my old yellow car

The subdued title track, ‘In San Antone’ paints a nicely detailed picture of leaving home for a country music career. The protagonist is struggling “on Broadway” (presumably the one in Nashville rather than New York), but takes comfort in thoughts of the one waiting back home who remains his biggest fan.

There is a lovely, understated cover of the country standard ‘She Thinks I Still Care’, with some tasteful steel and fiddle from Doyle Grisham and Hoot Hester. Dan is no George Jones, but his plaintive interpretation works in its own right.

‘She’s Leaving’ is a pretty, sensitively sung ballad about an impending breakup, which Dan wrote with Bob McDill. The strings, synthesizer and vocoder betray the track’s age, but the vocal is beautiful. ‘Oh These Nights’, written by Dan with Rafe VanHoy, is another fine ballad, with a downcast Dan slowly getting over his heartbreak one day at a time. This one has a more sympathetic production, with some pretty fiddle. Less successfully, ‘Who’s Gonna Keep Me Warm’ has the emotion of the lyric, about a breakup, flattened out by too intrusive a choir and string arrangement.

An ode to long lasting true love, ‘The Loving Proof’ (written by Gary Nicholson) has a smooth pop country arrangement. The equally romantic ballad ‘Tonight Is For the Lover In You’, written by Bob McDill and Charlie Black, is more attractively arranged, as the protagonist tenderly encourages his wife to rekindle their romance after a hard day chasing career dreams.

The album closes with the very short (under two minutes) ‘One Friend’, an absolutely lovely and tenderly delivered declaration of love written by Dan and dedicated to his wife Andi:

Sometimes the world was on our side
Sometimes it wasn’t fair
Sometimes it gave a helping hand
Sometimes we didn’t care

Cause when we were together
It made the dream come true
If I had only one friend left
I’d want it to be you

Overall, this was a good record which has some of the limitations of a commercial country record of the mid-1980s, but the vocals, songs and Kyle Lehning’s relatively restrained hand at the helm all make it a good example of its kind.

Grade: B+

It is avilable digitally, although CDs are hard to find.

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