24 Sep 2020

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Daniel McClelland - EP Review: Swallow Fear

24 Nov 2019 // A review by Gaby Ivanov-Giraldo
You want it? Come and get it! Daniel McClelland has hit us with another heroic record. The Swallow Fear EP is now available, and it follows Daniel's debut album Anxious Heart, which earned him a nomination for the Auckland Live Best Independent Debut Award. Having received a generous audience so far for his lead single release and music video of Blotted Out The Background, McClelland has enchanted us once again. With the unique ability to display scores of genres without sticking to one, these five featured songs are a true musical concord.

Swallow Fear is a fusion of alternative pop-rock, 90’s dance music, grungy guitar, “rich Beach Boy influenced harmonies” and symphonic pop with lyrics and structure that showcases McClelland’s song-writing and skillful production. These songs take you back to the genius of The Beach Boys records while also throwing together his other personal big influences such as Nirvana, Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley’s genre of New Jack Swing.

McClelland, a gifted multi-instrumentalist and one-man band from Wellington, cheerfully shows modern pop conforms what music really deserves attention. Swallow Fear tackles the ideas of perfectionism, the ever-busy mind of an ambitious musician, compromise to happiness with a narrative detailing tensions of modern life. The EP draws on themes of emigration’s effect on families, parenthood, and the birth of a new channel for Daniel’s past anxieties into his musical work.

The whole EP is real blast to listen to; all songs being self-written, recorded, mixed and then produced with layers upon layers of perfected overdubs, giving timely tracks that set the bar high for any self-engineered artist. The work is mastered by our very own NZ music legend Mike Gibson of Munki Studios, with cover photo shot by photographer Gareth Bradley. Not only are these songs all self-produced but bring fire to an art of precision; a fussy, slick sound conveyed by themes denouncing narrow-mindedness in listening.

McClelland extends the idea of multiplicity with his “12 versions of himself” showcased in the music video of Blotted Out The Background. This song really reaches for energy with its drumming, crazed guitar solos and theatrical vocals. There’s no wonder why a collaborated video of “Sci-Fi, Horror, Western, and Noir” was fitting. The guitar solo at 1 minute 39 seconds is specially amplified in the video with the cut to the white room where each five main instruments are played by five epic versions of Daniel.

Track two, So Happy, gives further exposure of McClelland’s bombastic harmonising and layering techniques, notably full-bodied guitar, and “anything-goes” type lyrics drawing on a narrative of modern love and its innocence. Turn My Cheek then brings a bounce, animating his alt-pop sound and the EP’s theme of swallowing fear coupled with a clever analogy of a breathing mask; a modern parent’s shield from apprehension. Joined, Entwined is a more mature love song of marital partnership and with the theme of rekindling lust. I’m Going Home then resurfaces the anxieties of emigration, but more personally to Daniel, returning to comforts of his homeland. The story tells of his remembrance of a thrilling run to a different life made abroad. The narrative then eases off with the beauty of returning to family and a place of belonging. This last song then softens with multiple overdubs, ending 17 minutes of craftsmanship.

Swallow Fear is an un-boxed, independent record made with true exuberance and one to add to the physical and downloadable collection. Now available on all major streaming services including Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud and YouTube with CD’s available for purchase, also via Bandcamp. Also, check out his website here.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Daniel McClelland

Daniel McClelland’s goal is singular: make pop music that rocks. To do this, he merges the harmonies of The Beach Boys, with the guitars of Nirvana and the drums of New Jack Swing innovator Teddy Riley. The results speak for themselves. His debut opened at #2 on the NZ Heatseeker Album Charts. Nominated for Best Independent Debut award at NZ’s Taite Music prizes. Muzic.net.nz said his music is "a delightful reminder of how music should be made." Daniel’s new EP Swallow Fear is out now, on all major streaming services worldwide. His music video for lead single Blotted Out The Background is on YouTube

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Daniel McClelland


Swallow Fear
Year: 2019
Type: EP
Anxious Heart
Year: 2017
Type: Album

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