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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dane Drewis - Rock & Soul

Dane Drewis - Rock & Soul
2010, Dane Drewis

Sacramento, California singer/songwriter Dane Drewis was born into a musical family, surrounded by classical, rock, Motown and jazz from an early age.  This range of influences informs Drewis’ songwriting and enigmatic performing style.  After spending several years developing his songwriting and performance skills with funk/rock outfit Cuesta Drive.  Drewis’ debut solo album, Rock & Soul, is a family affair, with siblings Janel and Deena Drewis and his parents Dale and Janet Drewis contributing various instrumentation and vocals.

Rock & Soul opens with "Friday Night", setting a solid vibe with the classic theme of letting the weekend wash your troubles away.  Drewis' blend of John Mayer vocal stylings and dreamy California soul/pop has its appeal, but the voice itself is somewhat limited.  "Together" takes advantage of Drewis' vocal strengths, and he lets go of his attempts to sound like Mayer here.  This seems like the most likely single on the album.  "Full Of it" is a call-out song on a false romance.  It's catchy and danceable, a great live tune.  "Sweet Music" finds Drewis trying to capture a good-time vibe with a Reggae beat, a vocoder and an easy demeanor.  In spite of all of this it never quite takes off, sounding more contrived than anything.  "Get Level" finds Drewis re-capturing his Mayer stylings in a danceable and fun tune that may play well on pop formats but seems like a passing fancy.

The second half of Rock & Soul is much thinner for solid songwriting.  "Continuum" is one of the more dynamic offerings on the album, but gets bogged down in over-use of sound samples.  "Rollin'" is upbeat and enjoyable, but like "Get Level" probably has a limited shelf-life for listeners.  Drewis redeems himself fully with the closing track, "Temptation", finally letting go of his urge to craft a sound that will get him on the radio and letting go with a great bit of rock songwriting.  This is Drewis at his best.  Hopefully listeners will get more of this Drewis next time around and less attempts to be or sound like someone else.

Dane Drewis has a certain knack for songwriting, a fact that shows prominently on Rock & Soul.  Most artists turn out their share of average songs, but Drewis compounds this on Rock & Soul by his investment to fit into a sound rather than sing out with his natural voice.  There are far too many artists on the radio and off that sound like John Mayer to want to slot yourself there unless it's your natural voice.  Drewis shows on the final track what he's really capable of after showing flashes of it elsewhere on Rock & Soul.  Hopefully next time around he'll focus on sounding more like Dane Drewis.  People will buy it.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Dane Drewis at or   Rock & Soul is available from as a CD or Download.  Digital copies are also available from iTunes.

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