Beautiful Beach Boys harmony in support of sheets of Luna-esque broody pop is the feel here.
Seattle Singer/Songwriter Danny Kwak?s debut is full of good hooks and emotional truths. Building off an original idea for an acoustic record, the former Autumn Sonata frontman instead has produced a shimmering, deep record, with both an eye for detail like Sufjan Stevens with the melodic sensibility of Belle and Sebastian.
?Sailors Trading Stories?, ?Stained Glass? and ?Deception at its best?, the best three songs of the five here, sound timeless in the best way. Never looking back, but adding on to musical cues from the past, they remind the listener that music isn?t for categories and charts positions; a musician has the entire history of every genre available for use if he so chooses. Kwak has absorbed his influences and knows just where they fit with his own goals. Lyrically, this translates into candid but never maudlin personal exposure, as well as addressing a variety of emotions that, given the simple pop setting of the songs, might have slipped into pretension in lesser hands. Additional vocals by D.J. Magana, David Cho, and Joey Wandler round out the sound and provide counterpoint and balance to the lyrics. Other heroes on the side include Cellist Esther Shin and Jackie Wu on violin, banjo and guitar, and Arick Gouwerok on bass. 8/10 -- Mike Wood (31 July, 2006)