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Dan Treanor – Highway Sixteen
Highway Sixteen is a compilation CD musician Dan Treanor has released most likely in the hopes of expanding on a fan base he has taken the pains to nurture. Behind the curtain you get a glimpse of the cultural beginnings of the blues while Treanor puts a modern spin on the music.
Dan doesn’t mind taking his listeners on a journey. Opening track “Missing” taken from the release African Wind featuring collaboration with artist Frankie Lee does seem to bore its roots in the jungle as flute and tribal drum beats evoke a shamanistic ritual bordering on evil and midnight lust.
The mood switches on next track “Hard Luck Child” coming from the album Brothers, Blood @ Bone. Smoking harp work gives this boogie and shuffle tune a taste of the hill country flavor one can only find in some deserted shotgun shack located on the outskirts of town.
Still Treanor cannot escape the meat and potatoes mysticism of the swirling hypnotic cadences of the jungle. It’s only a logical choice to select third track “From African Soul” to stir the same cauldron of swamp rock that fuels the other tracks.
There is the occasion Treanor might want to delve into a little Tinsley Ellis and he does it well in “Got No Life Line” featuring tasty guitar wah-wah work. The man can reach deep in creating a melancholy visual of pain and love and “Mona Lisa Smile” is his perfect calling card as echoy guitar and restrained harp punctuations speak to the loner who wants to regain a lost love.
As with any compilation disk you pick up, some of these numbers are just filler and can make you wonder why Treanor selected them as there were probably other tracks in the studio much more worthy of being included on this release. But in the overall song selection, there are more pluses than minuses. Including “On Fire” taken from Bad Neighborhood particularly seems out of place as Treanor wants to take on the role of a blues rocker and while it is admirable, the man should steer away from this direction as it really isn’t his true calling.
“African Wind” taken from the release of the same title appears to try and break new ground with weird African instruments. Unfortunately it misses the mark and should have been left off this disk entirely. It’s only confusing to the fans and they don’t know what Treanor is trying to prove.
Only when he gets back to the blues as he does in “Tumbling Blues” does Dan find the best circumstances to operate in. Sure it doesn’t sound like the man is standing at the crossroads. Once again using an African beat may get the man there spiritually to settle for what’s best.
“Just A Little Grease” taken from Bad Neighborhood is perhaps one of the best tunes on this compilation. Blending Zydeco influences and mixing swirling harp and Sonny Landreth guitar lines can make a listener wish why the rest of this album didn’t follow the same path. Treanor is a musician who doesn’t want to be pigeonholed so he writes material touching on various cornerstones to give his songs some flesh. No more is this evident than in “Field Hollar No 1” that lives up to its moniker with its chain gang chant and wah wah guitar lines laid out over a African Delta rhythm that is against backdrop of a sweltering summer day.
It’s this sort of pedigree in the blues that keeps Dan Treanor from becoming of these musicians who wish to stay confined in the box. It’s a formula uneven at best but still a curiosity of what the man will do next.
Reviewer Gary Weeks is a contributing writer. He resides in Marietta, GA.