Listen Up: Friday, September 29, 2004
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Dan Dyer

Of What Lies Beneath (Reprise/Roxie)

By Justin Press

Dan Dyer is a pet project of Lenny Kravitz’, but since Dyer’s star is in ascent as Lenny’s is fading, you gotta wonder who’s leading whom here — even though Kravitz plays 95 percent of the instruments on Dyer’s debut, Of What Lies Beneath, and contributes two strong songs.

The record has a sleek funkiness that’s leavened by organic touches, like acoustic guitars and Dyer’s occasionally winsome falsetto. It’s a pretty distinct sound; kinda makes you wonder why this guy isn’t huge already. He got the looks too — long, flowing locks, bearded like a Guess? model, draped in a gypsy’s finest threads, obvious talent. He’s like the Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson, but with big pecs.

But not everything is peaches and cream on Of What Lies Beneath, because there’s lots of filler. The good thing is that while there’s enough to make you notice, there’s not enough to detract from your enjoyment. Dyer’s voice has a masculine fragility to it that’s easy to warm up to, a man at his emotional breaking point. It translates superbly into the slightly bluesy, soft rock numbers that litter the album.

Kravitz’ influence is most notably felt in Dyer’s ability to cover as much genre ground as possible with at least a decent amount of accuracy, as when the mellow rock stylings of “Space Alien” bleed into the Con Funk Shun/Sly Stone/early-Kravitz workout of “Over Before It’s Begun.” (This track, in fact, is so “inspired” by Lenny that it basically replicates to the tiniest note the hook from the elder’s late-’90s hit “Let Love Rule,” replete with spacey backing vocal harmonies.)

Like his mentor, Dan Dyer is about as original as the color taupe. But like all shrewd artists, it’s how he paints with that hue that matters. Kravitz made a career of thieving from everyone, including Hendrix, Prince, and Paul Rodgers. Now it’s up to Dyer to steal from a thief who thieved from thieves. Of What Lies Beneath may not be in Stevie Wonder’s league, but there are some songs here that are in the key of life.


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