Sam Skinner 'Danny Through Junior'
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Usually, it’s an album’s lyrics that are praised for its poetry. But there’s also something about the instruments and melodies on Sam Skinner’s solo debut Danny Through Junior that feels equally poetic. Take a song like “Chestnuts,” on which Skinner’s shy voice is bolstered by a higher harmony, but also a tenderly plucked guitar whose expressive voice almost overpowers the vocalists. The way this guitar guides the song, the way a tidy drum set keeps it contained and a banjo trundles delicately behind it, evokes the savvy of a Whitman poem, the whimsy of a Dickinson. Or even “Joel,” like a whispered Weezer song, uses mumbly chords and a clever melody as it cycles through its verses. These songs feature musicianship that possess a sort of lyrical quality, delicate and intentional, instilling the implicit sense of a story, showing more than it tells. Skinner tapped a number of up-and-coming contemporaries to contribute vocals, including Elaiza Santos from Crying and 100%, Natasha Jacobs from Thelma, and Evan Stephens Hall, with whom he plays in Pinegrove. But, on Danny Through Junior, he takes a much calmer, much quieter approach compared to this other project, and it’s this calm that makes the record feel so pastoral—picturesque, but also poetic, full of complexity and delicate detail. It’s also this calm that make Skinner’s debut exciting within its indie context; here’s a musician stretching his wings and applying his agile songwriting sensibility to another sound, expanding his capacity as a musician and, simultaneously, the potential of his genre. -Dane Erbach