Dan Michaelson and The Coastguards – Distance
The pace of a Dan Michaelson song is usually so slow that if it were to walk behind a hearse it would probably still end up being late for the funeral. Imagine, then, the surprise when out of nowhere The Coastguards break into a jaunty beat on track three of their new album. The guitars are jangly. The drums uptempo. And then it happens. The gravel-voiced Gollum of gloom himself breaks full into song. It would be an exaggeration to say that he harmonises like Carl Wilson, but it’s certainly a revelation for long-time fans who are used to Dan’s daily growl. And yet it’s only an interlude. For the rest, this is another beautifully miserable offering. “I count every footstep that takes me away, I promise a thousand till I turn and say, that I miss you every step of the way”. It could be so depressing, but it never is. In part, that’s down to the arrangement and to The Coastguards themselves. The songs swell at just the right moment, lifting you up when you’re at the your lowest ebb. It’s also down to the lyrics. This is a very dark-sounding album, but it’s not as black as it might seem. On the wonderful opener, Evergreen, there’s “A shaft of burning light that melts the coldest moon”. On another track he tells us that he “walked through the night to find morning light”. But it’s on the magnificent ‘Your Beauty Still Rules’ that things are clearest. “There’s a hole where the light shines through, shows the dust in your room, draws a line that we can walk through, gently keeps me with you”. But that’s not all. “I hold the light in my hands”, he continues, “And warm every bone that I can, When I hold the light in my hands, We know no end”. On a Dan Michaelson album the pace is slow. But then what’s the rush?