Dan Israel Turning

By yesteryear’s star-maker standards, Dan Israel might be voted "least likely to succeed.” His voice is this side of pretty, the lovechild of Dylan, Peter Himmelman and Elvis Costello. If that wasn’t startling enough, he looks just like the guy down the street. However, Israel’s is a voice that deserves to be heard. He’s earned the right based on an old-fashioned work ethic and, fronting a nine-disc catalogue, his is the last laugh. Each release reveals fresh layers that define the sheer artistry of his songwriting, artful arrangements and a sincere yet powerful delivery. A prolific writer of high-end, original songs, Israel bolsters any shortcomings by aligning with complementary artists who amplify his formidable strengths. Running the gamut from authentic alt-country to simple singer-songwriter fare that’s stripped to the bone and red-raw, he turns both on their head with a penchant for brash outbursts of punk-ish energy. Turning introduces new elements: banjo, pedal steel, fiddle, harmonica and delightfully feminine harmonies that sweeten and embrace his comparatively coarse brogue. "Never Go Away” is a stripped down, Newman-esque ditty featuring solo piano accompaniment that sounds from another time, and is rendered instantly timeless. The big production on "Just Don’t Know,” with its trippy guitar break, returns the disc to Cultivator country, while "See You Grow” cements his claim to Turning’s roots-y turf. "Counting on You” amps up the energy for the ultimate party anthem, while "Hurt and Love” plants another of the unrelenting hooks he’s known to bury in each composition. Fourteen tracks later, Israel once again proves himself a consistently powerful and creative wunderkind. (Eclectone)