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'Standard Deviation'   

-  Label: 'Live Once Records'
-  Genre: 'Folk' -  Release Date: '28th March 2019'-  Catalogue No: 'LOR CD 10'

Our Rating:
Does the world really need another sensitive singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas? Many will be tempted to say no but with empathy and compassion in such short supply these days I personally think we need all the warmth and humility we can get.

And you would have to have a heart of stone to sneer at the Kickstarter campaign behind the album promising a record "about human connections and our divine entanglements with one another".

With this release Danny Schmidt has reached number ten in a steadily growing catalogue. This one is his second independent release after three with Americana roots label, Red House Records.

Although billed as solo work it comes replete with lush string arrangements and pedal steel guitars courtesy of Fats Kaplin. There are also ethereal female harmonies which include those of his partner, Carrie Elkin.

The 'difficult' subjects covered over the course of ten tunes range from gentrification to infertility. Another of the themes is that of fatherhood due in no small measure to the fact that Schmidt recently became a dad for the first time.

"The world stops spinning while the baby sleeps" is a line in the opening song, Just Wait Till They See You; one of many which has a soothing lullaby-like effect.

However, the title track is anything but a celebration of conventional family values. It's about "the parallel between quantum and human entanglement" and manages to make mathematics sexy as it documents a meeting of minds and bodies between two brainy young women students.

On another slant entirely Newport '65 is a kind of spiritual homage to Dylan without mentioning the man by name. There are borrowed lines from Mr Tambourine Man ("Come gather round people wherever you roam.....") in the unlikely event that any listener is in doubt about who inspired this tune.

The closing track, We Need A Better Word, is a touching song about finding the right language to describe the trauma of losing a baby through miscarriage in order "to fill the gap between the facts of what we say and what we've learned".

Tackling such a delicate topic shows a level of compassion that is always central to Schmidt's lyrics and ensures that moments of introspection never stray into abstract navel gazing.

Danny Schmidt's website

  author: Martin Raybould

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SCHMIDT, DANNY - Standard Deviation