14 Dec 2015

Dan Burnett: The EP

Dan Burnett: The EP

Brilliant high profile UK front line keyboard soloists like Paddy Milner, Ben Waters and Dale Storr are becoming as rare as hen's teeth, so when a good one comes along we must nurture him or her. One such is Dan Burnett who has just released a four track EP, his first, that gives a glimpse of what he can do. Bear with me a moment.

There was a time, not too long ago, when the single keyboard or piano man was a star - particularly in the jazz world where names like Erroll Garner, Earl Hines, Keith Jarrett and Art Tatum abounded. Later, Dr John, Professor Longhair, James Booker and Fats Domino covered another corner and then the rockers Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard did things with the keys that most of us can only dream about. Piano crossed into the mainstream without pausing for breath.

But that was then and now they are becoming more of a rarity. After the dozens of early blues pianists faded out of ear-shot (when did you last hear a track from Memphis Slim or Otis Spann?) and their music gets played less and less there has been a sad lack of British soloists. The talented keyboard players are out there of course but they tend these days to be subsumed by the band they are in. One of Pink Floyd's worst kept secrets was the brilliance of Rick Wright and the fabulous Jonny Dyke tends only to reach a wide audience with Matt Taylor's Motives – and you will certainly know of many others performing spectacularly behind a flamboyant frontman.

The Hat first saw Dan Burnett and reviewed him doing a solo live set at the final Hebden Bridge Blues Festival last year. He smashed it. Subtle and innovative, using the whole keyboard, he left his mark as a talent to take note of. Of course he didn't just appear out of nowhere and he has served his time over many years supporting some major artists in both the UK and abroad.

Three of the four tracks on this EP have his group backing him. All of the songs are self-penned. He opens up with 'Happiest Man Alive' which showcases both his ability to lay down a nice funky upbeat groove and work an arrangement with a tight band. 'Before you go' is a dramatic change of mood, slow with some sumptuous brass and backing vocals which give the sad story lyrics a great platform. 'More Than You Deserve' gives full range to his bluesy voice and lets the band open up, with lots of inter-action across the drums, horns and guitar. Great number to get the audience off their seats and bopping.

The last, and stand-out track is 'You're Going To Shine'. Everything about this is quality. The lyrics and vocals are sublime and the keyboard work shows the subtlety of someone who is totally at home playing and singing solo. This is a beautifully written piece and it's worth downloading his EP just for this on its own.

I understand that this is Dan's first step towards a full album later in 2015. For my part, I would like to hear much more of his solo work without band support on the final album as his range is obviously substantial. Buy this EP - and make a note now - this guy is going to be around a long time.