If you thought the unusually deep, velvety tone of Daniel Knox’s vocals was his thing, then you haven’t been paying attention.
Take a closer listen to Knox’s music and you’ll swear you heard wrong as he sings tales of high emotion about late-night stalkers, animal murder, and kidnapping like a lounge singer singing about love.
Chasescene is Knox’s fourth full-length release and his best yet. The producers, performers and collaborators credited to Chasescene read like a wish-list of desirables and are no doubt partly responsible for taking Knox’s material to the next level. Featuring contributions from Jarvis Cocker, Nina Nastasia, Jason Toth, David Coulter and the late Ralph Carney, Chasescene boasts arrangements that include an impressive string and brass section, musical saws, a mandolin, pedal steel and of course Knox’s distinctive piano.
Sometimes a story-teller, other times the victim, each sinister mystery, humorous woe or one-sided romance takes listeners on a journey of sublime disaster and misfortune beginning with “Keturahwaltz” which sets the tone of the infernal cabaret that follows. Highlights on Chasescene are “Capitol” with guest vocals by Jarvis Cocker and Nina Nastasia on “The Poisoner” offering listeners a salve from Knox’s tongue-in-cheek, lounge-singer suave. Cocker’s delivery of Knox’s villainous poetry is seductive yet worryingly earnest, like a madman whispering in your ear. Nastasia’s delightfully droll vocals on “The Poisoner” are canny and robust and, as with each track, complemented by full-bodied, perfectly on-point instrumentation.
While Knox’s crooning may often require a hefty grain of salt, like some kind of Broadway ringmaster, there are many moments of poignant sincerity that find their way to the surface when you’re least expecting them. A heart-breaking instrumental at the end of “Man is An Animal” or the final verse of “Me and My Wife” will find you glazing over all misty-eyed and melancholy for a brief moment, before he goes on to turn the screw in the next track. Chasescene will delight existing fans and lure in fresh blood with equal measure.