Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Dan Croll undergoes both a personal and musical epiphany on a terrific third outing

"Grand Plan"

Release date: 21 August 2020
Dan Croll Grand Plan small
18 August 2020, 09:00 Written by Christopher Hamilton-Peach
Swapping the storied streets of Liverpool for California’s sun-soaked climes, the British singer-songwriter re-emerges at a period of personal adjustment, sparring with a sense of belonging via a radical stylistic overhaul.

Three years since returning with Emerging Adulthood, Dan Croll jettisons the minimalist, electro-brushed alt-pop playbook in lieu of a dusky acoustic road-trip to pastures new; liberally embracing tropes from the late-60s Laurel Canyon scene interlaced with the kind of idyllic power pop that dominated airwaves in the early to mid-70s. Croll’s relocation to Los Angeles figures as the thematic centrepiece of Grand Plan, a change of scenery imbuing the album’s contemplative lyrics and sultry West Coast textures, wholeheartedly tapping a bucolic branch of soft rock that proved the staple of bands such as Bread, Dr. Hook and America amidst a slew of others.

This recalibration naturally dovetails with Matthew E. White’s involvement as producer, his expertise in crafting lilting Americana steers Croll through an about-turn from the clear-cut synth-fringed patterns that made the latter’s name. Standouts such as “So Dark” neatly epitomises this new approach, baring a sophisticated blend of ruminative organ flourishes and subtle guitar tones, songwriting that teases with understated flair. “Stay in L.A.” occupies a heady halfway house between 10cc and Todd Rundgren, while “Rain” retreats to the subject of homesick blues, a self-questioning counterpoint to Croll’s ode to a fresh start in a new land. This sense of geographical itinerance often intertwines with a competing pressure to settle down, the title-track tackling a relatable pace of change: “Everyone’s getting married / But I barely hold a stare / Everyone’s getting free and liberated / And I’m chained here to the desk”.

Grand Plan’s strengths lie in the way it plays out through the lens of lived experience rather than contrivance, channelling the tumult of adapting to an unfamiliar cultural climate with soulful credibility and wistful execution. Pulling on newfound influences, Croll extracts as much creative capital as possible from this point of realignment - an endeavour that pays off with richly nuanced results.

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