Free LifeRiding a successful showing at the 2007 Grammys where he took home a Song of the Year Grammy with the Dixie Chicks for the unabashedly brazen  tune “Not Ready to Make Nice” (he also co-wrote five more songs on their Album of the Year-winning Taking the Long Way), singer/songwriter Dan Wilson is ready to make nice for himself now. After front-lining the pop band Semisonic, garnering a Best Rock Song Grammy nomination for “Closing Time” in the process, Wilson is now set to release his debut solo album: Free Life.

Most listeners will be drawn in immediately by Wilson’s sweet emotional renderings, kicking off with “All Kinds”, the first track, a gentle love ode where, among other equally eloquent statements, Wilson declares, “You are true improbability. You’re the proof of when they say you never know what’s gonna be.” This sentiment is mirrored beautifully in the tune “Come Home Angel” where he breathily sings “You’re too perfect for this world: a visitor, a wanderer from somewhere better.” Other early tracks, such as “Breathless”, “Baby Doll”, and “Cry”, are comparatively sensitive and sentimental, though in more regretful, depressive ways, exploring lost love and dedication, none more so than “Breathless”, where he sings “You leave me breathless when you close the door it feels just like you took the air out of the room with you.” Listeners can’t help but be effected by Wilson’s pinings, whether upbeat or downtrodden.

In fact, the first half of Free Life offers a stirring, impassioned singer/songwriter effectively expressing complicated themes of love and loss. The first seven songs are undeniably superb creations by a brilliant musical mind. With the eighth track, “Golden Girl”, Wilson begins to lose momentum, and the rest of the album, excepting the Dixie Chicks collaboration “Easy Silence”, is decidedly less inspired and enjoyable. Though not unpleasant, tracks eight through 12 are just lacking the simple, honest presentation and originality of the first half of the album.

Asking listeners “What you gonna spend your free life on?” in the title track, Wilson’s clear, sometimes chilling vocals, comparable to John Ondrasik of Five For Fighting or a slightly more upbeat Damien Rice, perfectly push his expressive lyrics through his expansive melodies. Vocally and musically, Wilson’s solo work is equally moving and catchy. His songwriting skills shine through in the emotional verses while his experience with popular music is abundantly evident in his memorable choruses. An entire album of moving ballads would have been the ideal release, but half an album is still enjoyable.

Zach’s Rating: B
Semisonic fan’s rating: B+
Semi-Sonic the Hedgehog fan’s rating: C

To purchase Free Life (available 10/16), visit Amazon
For more information on Dan Wilson, visit his homepage

Be Sociable, Share!