My Kind of Country

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

Daily Archives: August 24, 2012

Classic Rewind: Cal Smith – ‘I Took Her For A Fool’

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Album Review – Dan Seals – ‘In A Quiet Room’

I’ve never been a fan of artists re-recording their material, whither in a live setting, acoustically, or for a new label in cases where the singer’s previous label holds the rights to the hit recordings. Usually nothing new is brought to the songs, and it ends up feeling pointless.

Released in 1995, Dan Seals’ In A Quiet Room functions much the same way. His only recording for Intersound, an independent label, the album collects ten of Seals’ biggest hits, re-recorded in an acoustic setting.

Two singles were released from the project, although neither charted. “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight,” a cover of his 1976 pop hit (as part of England Dan and John Ford Coley) came first. While listenable, the track offers nothing new either vocally or stylistically to improve upon the original. “The Healing Kind,” meanwhile, is excellent and draws on a lush mandolin-centric production and beautiful harmony vocals from Alison Krauss

Too bad it’s the only shinning moment on the project. The songs featured on In A Quiet Room are Seals’ biggest hits and therefore so well known its hard not to remember the originals when listening to these acoustic renderings. More often than not, they just don’t sound as full and as a result lack the magic that made them great in the first place.

Songs like “Bop” just plain don’t work in this coffeehouse like setting, as without the drums and horns, the song comes off like Seals is playing sound check before a concert. The same is true for his masterpiece, “Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold)” which sounds pleasant enough, but without the drums and steel guitar, it sounds too naked. Same goes for “Big Wheels In The Moonlight.”

The ballads are nice to listen to, but all sound the same thanks to similar production treatments that keep them difficult to distinguish between. The only notable exception is “One Friend,” which is extended in length from the original recording. But even though the original clocked in under two minutes, it’s still much warmer sonically.

Overall, In A Quiet Room is a miss because these versions very rarely improve upon the originals in any way, and therefore make the overall album feel pointless. I would much have preferred Seals rework the songs in some notable way, like Mary Chapin Carpenter did with “Quittin’ Time” on her Party Doll album.

Problem is, these songs were perfect originally, so there was no need to mess with them in the first place.

Grade: C+