The Same But Different is Dan Walsh’s second solo album, and it describes well what is inside - a collection of tunes and songs, some traditional and some self-penned, all showcasing his incredible talent on banjo and guitar, yet all startling different from each other. He moves from one genre to another with ease.
Dan explains in interview that his ethos is to use the banjo to play any type of music, and he lives up to that promise. The album contains a range of pieces to satisfy vastly differing musical tastes.
This is both its strength and also a potential difficulty. It’s hard to characterise Dan Walsh’s music because he plays across so many genres. He is a musical chameleon in his ability to morph styles. What is undeniable is that he is a highly skilled banjo and guitar player.
The Same But Different features Dan on banjo, guitar and vocals. He is supported by a group of talented musicians playing harp, mandolin, fiddle, drums and percussion.
Dan describes the opening and ending pieces of the album as ’bookends’. The first piece is three Jigs written by Dan, the last piece Reels combines some of his favourite Scottish and Irish traditional tunes with pieces he has written. Both of these are wonderful examples of his banjo playing at its very best.
The album ’explodes into life’, as he puts it, with the transition from the opening jigs to the second traditional song, When a Man’s in Love. The dubbed reggae backing is completely unexpected and the drums at the beginning are in huge contrast to the opening solo banjo. The modern sound of this traditional song is also so very different from the first tunes.
There are also two surprising jazz-based pieces on the album. The first of these, Bread and Butter, is followed by a straight bluegrass piece, The Wiseman. At Least Pretend is a jazzy version of a Saw Doctors song.
According to Dan, the hardest piece to record was Lesley’s Cheesecake. It starts with a traditional Romanian tune and then moves into an original composition. There are other pieces which showcase both fast and furious banjo playing and slower, more reflective playing.
Dan considers the title song, which is about his hometown of Stafford, to be the best song on the album. It is certainly an insightful, very personal piece.
The impression the album leaves is that Dan Walsh is a master when it comes to playing different styles. There appears to be no style out of his reach, if he puts his mind to it. It will be interesting to follow his next steps to discover where if anywhere he decides to lay his hat.Karin Horowitz
Release date 3 September 2012
2. When a Man’s in Love
3. New Farming Scene
4. Bread and Butter
5. The Wiseman
6. Same But Different
7. Darkness Descends
8. Snow in March
9. Lesley’s Cheesecakes
10. At Least Pretend
11. More About You