Danny Bell & His Disappointments Bring Big Feelings to Small-City Living on 'Songs for the Town'
Published Dec 11, 2020An accordion's magic lies in its wonky instability. Even expertly played, there remains the feeling that one miscounted note or mashed key will send it all crashing down. It's that kinetic energy and wheezing effort that drives Songs for the Town, the second full-length from Prince George, BC's Danny Bell & His Disappointments. The record is defined by the clipped inhale-exhale of Bell's accordion, as much as it is his particular worldview — Songs for the Town is an anti-capitalist, anti-elitist, anti-asshole folk record for small moments and small places.
Bell's songs are rich with dark with and peculiar observations on every passing frustration, minor regret or imagined thought — the stuff that floats by in the ether and sticks in your mind. While Songs for the Town is sometimes quietly blue or yearning, Bell always manages to toe the line between tragedy and comedy. Sad-dog songs like "Old Toyota" or "The Longest Walk" are both goofy and genuinely touching; his songs might be funny, but they're never jokes.
There's a sly political bent to Bell's conversational yarns on this record, with little stories that touch on big ideas, such as pollution, mill-town pride and the Canadian citizenship blues. The music has a hard-eyed edge too — its chants and bar-room melodies giving way to a frenzied swirl that edges toward cow-punk on "Good Canadian" or a folk-metal churn on the penultimate "Riverbank." The aforementioned track, along with closer "Safe on the Hart" — with its shimmering clouds of accordion and violin — are the record's unquestionable peaks; the two songs best exemplify Bell's knack for winking commentary laced with real feeling.
Songs for the Town is an insular record made for a particular place and particular people, but it speaks to something more; it speaks on where we come from, what makes a home, work, friends and lonely dogs. (Good Egg Records )