Daniel Rossen – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 15, 2014
Daniel Rossen and William Tyler make a great touring duo, like a fine wine perfectly paired with a gourmet meal. They were only on the road together for about a month before ending it last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg. For a night already feeling surreal due to a heavy rain that slowly turned into an unexpected and unseasonal snow shower, the one-two of Tyler and Rossen evoked an even more surreal sense of spiritual strangeness. Tyler’s music gets called a lot of things, but usually Americana is thrown in somewhere there. The Nashville native’s music in many ways reflects the sum of our vast and expansive country—the music that arises out of the heartland. “I’m always trying to pay attention to the melody of every landscape,” said Tyler before “Country of Illusion,” referring to the sound as the land’s “eternal ramble.” His fingerpicked acoustic guitar work does have its way of blurring into a meditative hum, a Zen-inducing sound on par with the word om. Much of his music carried a more dissonant sound than on his recordings, perhaps because he was so far from his home that inspired the original compositions.
Rossen, a New Yorker since his college years, inspires a similar vibe. His music sometimes evokes that feeling you get when you zoom out of the chaos of New York City and distill it down to its odd feeling of harmony. Rossen’s made an impressive amount of music that spans across two other bands, Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles, in addition to his own solo work, which compared to his other material, feels much more stripped down, especially when he’s performing with just a guitar, piano or (for the final song of his set) a banjo. Dubbing the night “the most homecoming show I have ever had in my entire life,” Rossen expressed how happy he was to return, rewarding his hometown accordingly. With just an EP to his own name, Rossen included several new songs and older ones that haven’t been recorded in his set. Additionally, there were also some unexpected covers, including Townes Van Zandt’s “Kathleen” and a tune by Department of Eagles collaborator Fred Nicolaus. For his encore, Rossen did his version of Judee Sill’s “Waterfall,” one of the incredibly underappreciated singer-songwriter’s most beautiful numbers. There’s too much to thank Rossen for, but bringing this song to my attention is pretty high on that list.